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WILLIAM MORRIS . . . . . 9
ROBERT BROWNING .... 37
ALFRED TENNYSON . . . . . . 67
ROBERT BURNS ..... 91
JOHN MILTON ...... 117
SAMUEL JOHNSON . . . . .143
THOMAS B. MACAULAY . . . . 171
LORD BYRON 199
JOSEPH ADDISON . . . . . . . 233
ROBERT SOUTHEY . . . . . 263
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE . . . . 287
BENJAMIN DISRAELI . . . . 317
i:o the tomes
THE IDLE SINGER
Of Heaven or Hell I have no power to sing,
I can not ease the burden of your fears,
Or make quick-coming death a little thing,
Or bring again the pleasure of past years,
Nor for my words shall ye forget your tears,
Or hope again for aught that I can say,
The idle singer of an empty day.
But rather, when aweary of your mirth,
From full hearts still unsatisfied ye sigh,
And feeling kindly unto all the earth,
Grudge every minute as it passes by.
Made the more mindful that the sweet days die,
Remember me a little then, I pray,
The idle singer of an empty day.
Dreamer of dreams, born out of my due time,
Why should I strive to set the crooked straight? 7
Let it suffice me that my murmuring rhyme
Beats with light wing against the ivory gate,
Telling a tale not too importunate
To those who in the sleepy region stay,
Lulled by the singer of an empty day.
From " The Earthly Paradise '
HE parents of William Morris were
well-to-do people who lived in the
village of Walthamstow, Essex.
The father was a London bill-broker,
cool-headed, calculating, practical.
In the home of his parents William
Morris received small impulse in
the direction of art; he, however,
was taught how to make both ends meet, and there
were drilled into his character many good lessons of
plain commonsense a rather unusual equipment for a
poet, but still one that should not be waived or con-
sidered lightly. At the village school William was
neither precocious nor dull, neither black nor white:
his cosmos being simply a sort of slaty-gray, a condition
of being which attracted no special attention from either
his schoolfellows or his tutors. From the village school
he went to Marlborough Academy, where by patient
grubbing he fitted himself for Exeter College, Oxford.
<I Morris, the elder, proved his good sense by taking no
very special interest in the boy's education. Violence
of direction in education falls flat: man is a lonely
creature, and has to work out his career in his own way.
To help the grub spin its cocoon is quite unnecessary,
and to play the part of Mrs. Gamp with the butterfly
in its chrysalis stage is to place a quietus upon its career.
The whole science of modern education is calculated to
turn out a good, fairish, commonplace article; but the
formula for a genius remains a secret with Deity. The
great man becomes great in spite of teachers and parents ;
and his near kinsmen, being color-blind, usually pooh-
pooh the idea that he is anything more than mediocre S
At Oxford, William Morris fell in with a young mar
of about his own age, by the name of Edward Burne-
Jones. Burne- Jones was studying theology. He was
slender in stature, dreamy, spiritual, poetic. Morris was
a giant in strength, blunt in speech, bold in manner,
and had a shock of hair like a lion's mane. This was
in the year Eighteen Hundred Fifty-three these young
men being nineteen years of age. The slender, yellow,
dreamy student of theology and the ruddy athlete
became fast friends.
" Send your sons to college and the boys will educate
them," said Emerson. These boys read poetry together;
and it seems the first author that specially attracted
them was Mrs. Browning; and she attracted them
dimply because she had recently eloped with the man she
loved. This fact proved to Morris that she was a worthy
woman and a discerning. She had the courage of her
convictions. To elope with a poor poet, leaving a rich
father and a luxurious home what nobler ambition?
Burne- Jones, student of theology, considered her
action proof of depravity. Morris, in order to show his
friend that Mrs. Browning was really a rare and gentfe
soul, read aloud to Burne- Jones from her books. Morris
himself had never read much of Mrs. Browning's work,
but in championing her cause and interesting his friend
in her, he grew interested himself. Like lawyers, we
undertake a cause first and look for proof later. In
teaching another, Morris taught himself. By explaining
a theme it becomes luminous to us.
In passing, it is well to note that this impulse in the
heart of William Morris to come to the defense of an
accused person was ever very strong. His defense of
Mrs. Browning led straight to " The Defense of Guin-
evere/* begun while at Oxford and printed in book
form in his twenty-fourth year. Not that the offenses
of Guinevere and Elizabeth Barrett were parallel, but
Morris was by nature a defender of women. And it
should further be noted that Tennyson had not yet
written his " Idylls of the King," at the time Morris
wrote his poetic brief.
Another author that these young men took up at this
time was Ruskin. John Ruskin was fifteen years older
than Morris an Oxford man, too; also, the son of a
merchant and rich by inheritance. Ruskin's natural
independence, his ability for original thinking and his
action in embracing the cause of Turner, the ridiculed,
won, die heart of Morris. In Ruskin he found a writer
wk> expressed the thoughts that he believed. He read
Ruskin, and insisted that Burne- Jones should. Together
they read "The Nature of Gothic/' and then they
went out upon the streets of Oxford and studied
examples at first hand. They compared the old with the
new, and came to the conclusion that the buildings
erected two centuries before had various points to
recommend them which modern buildings have not.
The modern buildings were built by contractors, while
the old ones were constructed by men who had all the
time there was, and so they worked out their con-
ceptions of the eternal fitness of things.
Then these young men, with several others, drew up
a remonstrance against " the desecration by officious
restoration, and the tearing down of time-mellowed
structures to make room for the unsightly brick piles
of boarding-house keepers/'
The remonstrance was sent in to the authorities, and
by them duly pigeonholed, with a passing remark that
young fellows sent to Oxford to be educated had better
attend tc their books and mind their own business.
Having espoused the cause of the Middle Ages in archi-
tecture, these young men began to study the history
of the people who lived in the olden time. They read
Spenser and Chaucer, and chance threw in their way a
dog-eared copy of Mallory's " Morte d* Arthur/* and
this was still more dog-eared when they were through
with it. Probably no book ever made more of an
impression on Morris than this one; and if he had
written an article for the " Ladies' Home Journal " on
" Books That Influenced Me Most/' he would have
placed Mallory's " Morte d' Arthur " first.
influence of Burne- Jones on Morris was marked, and
the influence of Morris on Burne- Jones was profound.
Morris discovered himself in explaining things to
Burne- Jones, and Burne- Jones, without knowing it,
adopted the opinions of Morris; and it was owing to
Morris that he gave up theology.
Having abandoned the object that led him to college,
Burne- Jones lost faith in Oxford, and went down to
London to study art.
Morris hung on, secured his B. A., and articled himself
to a local architect with the firm intent of stopping the
insane drift for modern mediocrity, and bringing about
a just regard for the stately dignity of the Gothic.
A few months' experience, however, and he discovered
that an apprentice to an architect was not expected to
furnish plans or even criticize those already made: his
business was to make detail drawings from completed
designs for the contractors to work from.
A year at architecture, with odd hours filled in at poetry
and art, and news came from Burne- Jones that he had
painted a picture, and sold it for ten pounds.
Now Morris had all the money he needed. His father's
prosperity was at flood, and he had but to hint for funds
and they came; yet to make things with your own
hands and sell them was the true test of success.
He had written " Gertha's Lovers/' " The Tale of the
Hollow Land/* and various poems and essays for the
college magazine; and his book, " The Defense of Guin-
evere/* had been issued at his own expense, and the
edition was on his hands a weary weight.
Thoreau wrote to his friends, when the house burned
and destroyed all copies of his first book, " The edition
is exhausted," but no such happiness came to Morris.
And so when glad tidings of an artistic success came
from Burne- Jones, he resolved to follow the lead and
abandon architecture for " pure art/'
Arriving in London he placed himself under the tutor-
ship of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, poet, dreamer and artist,
six years his senior, whom he had known for some
time, and who had also instructed Burne- Jones.
While taking lessons in painting at the rather shabby
house of Rossetti in Portland Street, he was introduced
to Rossetti's favorite model a young woman of rare
grace and beauty. Rossetti had painted her picture
as " The Blessed Damozel/' leaning over the bar of
Heaven, while the stars in her hair were seven. Morris,
the impressionable, fell in love with the canvas and
then with the woman.
When they were married, tradition has it that Ros-
setti withheld his blessing and sought to drown his
sorrow in fomentations, with dark, dank hints in bari-
tone to the effect that the Thames only could appre-
ciate his grief*
But grief is transient; and for many years Dante Ros-
setti and Burne- Jones pictured the tall, willowy figure of
Mrs. Morris as the dream-woman, on tapestry and can-
vas; and as the "Blessed Virgin," her beautiful face
and form are shown in many sacred places.
Truth need not be distorted in a frantic attempt to
make this an ideal marriage only a woman with the
intellect of Minerva could have filled the restless heart
of William Morris. But the wife of Morris believed in
her lord, and never sought to hamper him; and if she
failed at times to comprehend his genius, it was only
because she was human.
Whistler once remarked that without Mrs. Morris to
supply stained-glass attitudes and the lissome beauty
of an angel, the Preraphaelites would have long since
gone down to dust and forgetfulness.
HE year which William Morris spent at archi-
tecture, he considered as nearly a waste of
time, but it was not so in fact. As a drafts-
man he had developed a marvelous skill,
and the grace and sureness of his lines were a delight
to Burne- Jones, Rossetti, Holman Hunt, Ford Madox
Brown and others of the little artistic circle in which
he found himself 53 Youth lays great plans; youth is
always in revolt against the present order; youth
groups itself in bands and swears eternal fealty ; and life,
which is change, dissipates the plans, subdues the revolt
into conformity, and the sworn friendships fade away
into dull indifference* Always? Well, no, not exactly S&
In this instance the plans and dreams found form; the
revolt was a revolution that succeeded; and the brother-
hood existed for near fifty years, and then was severed
only by death.
Without going into a history of the Preraphaelite
Brotherhood, it will be noted that the band of enthu-
siasts in art, literature and architecture had been
swung by the arguments and personality of William
Morris into the strong current of his own belief, and
this was that Art and Life in the Middle Ages were
much lovelier things than they are now.
That being so, we should go back to medieval times
for our patterns 33 A study of the best household
decorations of the Fifteenth Century showed that all
the furniture used then was made to fit a certain
apartment, and with a definite purpose in view 53 Of
course it was made by hand, and the loving marks of
the tool were upon it. It was made as good and strong
and durable as it could be made. Floors and walls were
of mosaic or polished wood, and these were partly
covered by beautifully woven rugs, skins and tapes-
tries. The ceilings were sometimes ornamented with
pictures painted in harmony with the use for which
the room was designed. Certainly there were no chromos
and the pictures were few and these of the best, for the
age was essentially a critical one.
A modest circular was issued in which the fact was
made known that " a company of historical artists will
use their talents in home decoration/*
Dealers into whose hands this circular fell, smiled in
derision, and the announcement made no splash in
England's artistic waters. But the leaven was at work
which was bound to cause a revolution in the tastes
of fifty million people.
Most of our best moves are accidents, and every jgood
thing begins as something else. In the beginning there
was no expectation of building up a trade or making a
financial success of the business. The idea was simply
that the eight young men who composed the band
were to use their influence in helping one another to
secure commissions, and corroborate the views of
doubting patrons as to what was art and what not. In
other words, they were to stand by one another 33
Ford Madox Brown, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Burne-
Jones and Arthur Hughes were painters; Philip Webb
an architect; Peter Paul Marshall a landscape-gardener
and engineer; Charles Joseph Faulkner, an Oxford
don, was a designer, and William Morris was an all-
round artist ready to turn his hand to anything.
These men undertook to furnish a home from garret
to cellar in an artistic way.
Work came, and each set himself to help all the others,
From simply supplying designs for furniture, rugs, car-
pets and wall-paper they began to manufacture these
things, simply because they could not buy or get others
to make the things they desired.
Morris undertook the entire executive charge of affairs,
and mastered the details of half a dozen trades in
order that he might intelligently conduct the business.
The one motto of the firm was, '* Not how cheap, but
how good/' They insisted that housekeeping must be
simplified, and that we should have fewer things and
have them better. To this end single pieces of furniture
were made, and all sets of furniture discarded* I have
seen several houses furnished entirely by William
Morris, and the first thing that impressed me was the
sparsity of things. Instead of a dozen pictures in a room,
there were two or three one on an easel and one or two
on the walls. Gilt frames were abandoned almost
entirely, and dark-stained woods were used instead*
Wide fireplaces were introduced and mantels of solid
oak. For upholstery, leather covering was commonly
used instead of cloth. Carpets were laid in strips, not
tacked down to stay, and rugs were laid so as to show a
goodly glimpse of hardwood floor; and in the dining-
room a large, round table was placed instead of a right-
angled square one. This table was not covered with a
tablecloth; instead, mats and doilies were used here and
there. To cover a table entirely with a cloth or spread
was pretty good proof that the piece of furniture was
cheap and shabby; so in no William Morris library or
dining-room would you find a table entirely covered.
The round dining-table is in very general use now, but
few people realize how its plainness was scouted when
William Morris first introduced it.
One piece of William Morris furniture has become
decidedly popular in America, and that is the " Morris
Chair/* The first chair of this pattern was made entirely
by the hands of the master. It was built by a man
who understood anatomy, unlike most chairs and all
church pews. It was also strong, durable, ornamental,
and by a simple device the back could be adjusted so
as to fit a man's every mood.
There has been a sad degeneracy among William
Morris chairs; still, good ones can be obtained, nearly
as excellent as the one in which I rested at Kelmscott
House broad, deep, massive, upholstered with curled
hair, and covered with leather that would delight a
bookbinder. Such a chair can be used a generation and
then passed on to the heirs, ^f Furnishing of churches
and chapels led naturally to the making of stained-
glass windows, and hardly a large city of Christendom
but has an example of the Morris work.
Morris managed to hold that erratic genius, Dante
Gabriel Rossetti, in line and direct his efforts, which
of itself was a feat worthy of record. He made a for-
tune for Rossetti, who was a child in this world's affairs,
and he also made a fortune for himself and every man
connected with the concern.
Burne- Jones stood by the ship manfully, and proved
his good sense by never interfering with the master's
plans, or asking foolish, quibbling questions showing
faith on all occasions.
The Morris designs for wall-paper, tapestry, cretonnes
and carpets are now the property of the world, but to
say just which is a William Morris design and which
a Burne- Jones is an impossibility, for these two strong
men worked together as one being with two heads and
four hands. At one time, I find the firm of Morris and
Company had three thousand hands at work in its
various manufactories, the work in most instances being
done by hand after the manner of the olden time.
William Morris was an avowed socialist long before
so many men began to grow jtond of calling themselves
Christian Socialists. Morris was too practical not to
know that the time is not ripe for life on a communal
basis, but in his heart was a high and holy ideal that
he has partially explained in his books, ** A Dream of
John Ball " and " News From Nowhere/* and more
fully in many lectures. His sympathy was ever with
the workingman and those who grind fordone at the
wheel of labor. To better the condition of the toiler
was his sincere desire. But socialism to him was more
of an emotion than a well-worked-out plan of life. He
believed that men should replace competition by
Co-operation. He used to say: " I 'm going your way, so
let us go hand in hand. You help me and I '11 help you.
We shall not be here very long, for soon, Death, the
kind old nurse, will come and rock us all to sleep let
us help one another while we may/* And that is about
the extent of the socialism of William Morris.
There is one criticism that has been constantly brought
against Morris, and although he answered this criti-
cism a thousand times during his life, it still springs
fresh put forth by little men who congratulate them-
selves on having scored a point.
They ask in orotund, " How could William Morris
expect to benefit society at large, when all of the
products he manufactured were so high in price that
only the rich could buy them? **
Socialism, according to William Morris, does not con-
sider it desirable to supply cheap stuff to anybody. The
socialist aims to make every manufactured article of
the best quality possible. It is not how cheap can this
be made, but how good. Make it as excellent as it can
be made to serve its end. Then sell it at a price that
affords something more than a bare subsistence to the
workmen who put their lives into its making. In
this way you raise the status of the worker you pay
him for his labor and give him an interest and pride in
the product. Cheap products make cheap men- The first
thought of socialism is for the worker who makes the
thing, not the man who buys it.
Work is for the worker.
What becomes of the product of your work, and how
the world receives it, matters little. But how you do
it is everything. We are what we are on account of
the thoughts we have thought and the things we have
done. As a muscle grows strong only through use, so
does every attribute of the mind, and every quality of
the soul take on new strength through exercise. And
on the other hand, as a muscle not used atrophies and
dies, so will the faculties of the spirit die through disuse.
<I Thus we see why it is very necessary that we should
exercise our highest and best. We are making charac-
ter, building soul-fiber; and no rotten threads must
be woven into this web of life. If you write a paper
for a learned society, you are the man who gets the
benefit of that paper the society may. If you are a
preacher and prepare your sermons with care, you are
the man who receives the uplift and as to the con-
gregation, it is all very doubtfuL
Work is for the worker*
We are all working out our own salvation. And thus
do we see how it is very plain that John Ruskin was
right when he said that the man who makes the thing
is of far more importance than the man who buys it.
Work is for the worker*
Can you afford to do slipshod, evasive, hypocritical
work? Can you afford to shirk, or make-believe or
practise pretense in any act of life> No, no; for all the
time you are molding yourself into a deformity, and
drifting away from the Divine. What the world does
and says about you is really no matter, but what you
think and what you do are questions vital as Fate. No
one can harm you but yourself. Work is for the worker.
And so I will answer the questions of the critics as
to how society has been benefited by, say, a William
1. The workmen who made it found a pride and satis-
faction in their work.
2. They received a goodly reward in cash for their time
3. The buyers were pleased with their purchase, and
received a decided satisfaction in its possession,
4. Readers of the book were gratified to see their author
clothed in such fitting and harmonious dress.
5. Reading the text has instructed some, and possibly
inspired a few to nobler thinking. <I After " The Defense
of Guinevere " was published, it was thirteen years
before Morris issued another volume. His days had been
given to art and the work of management. But now the
business had gotten on to such a firm basis that he
turned the immediate supervision over to others, and
took two days of the week, Saturday and Sunday, for
literature SA 53
Taking up the active work of literature when thirty-
mine years of age, he followed it with the zest of
youth for over twenty years until death claimed him.
William Morris thought literature should be the prod-
uct of the ripened mind the mind that knows the
world of men and which has grappled with earth's
problems. He also considered that letters should not
be a profession in itself to make a business of an art
is to degrade it. Literature should be the spontaneous
output of the mind that has known and felt. To work
the mine of spirit as a business and sift its product
for hire, is to overwork the vein and palm off slag for
sterling metal. Shakespeare was a theater-manager,
Milton a secretary, Bobby Burns a farmer, Lamb a
bookkeeper, Wordsworth a government employee,
Emerson a lecturer, Hawthorne a custom-house in-
spector, and Whitman a clerk. William Morris was a
workingman and a manufacturer, and would have been
Poet Laureate of England had he been willing to call
himself a student of sociology instead of a socialist*
Socialism itself (whatever it may be) is not offensive
the word is.
]HE great American Apostle of Negation ex-
pressed, once upon a day, a regret that he
had not been consulted when the Universe
was being planned, otherwise he would have ar-
ranged to make good things catching instead of bad.
The remark tokened a slight lesion in the logic of the
Apostle, for good things are now, and ever have been,
Once upon a day, I met a young man who told me
that he was exposed at Kelmscott House for a brief
hour, and caught it, and ever after there were in his
mind, thoughts, feelings, emotions and ideals that had
not been there before. Possibly the psychologist would
explain that the spores of all these things were simply
sleeping, awaiting the warmth and sunshine of some
peculiar presence to start them into being; but of that
I can not speak this only I know, that the young man
said to me, " Whereas I was once blind, I now see/'
<I William Morris was a giant in physical strength and
a giant in intellect. His nature was intensely masculine,
in that he could plan and act without thought of
precedent. Never was a man more emancipated from
the trammels of convention and custom than William
Morris. <I Kelmscott House at Hammersmith is in an
ebbtide district where once wealth and fashion held
sway; but now the vicinity is given over to factories,
tenement-houses and all that train of evil and vice that
follows in the wake of faded gentility.
At Hammersmith you will see spacious old mansions
used as warehouses; others as boarding-houses; still
others converted into dance-halls with beer-gardens
in the rear, where once bloomed and blossomed milady's
flowerbeds SS 3$
The broad stone steps and wide hallways and iron
fences, with glimpses now and then of ancient door-
plates or more ancient knockers, tell of generations
lost in the maze of oblivion.
Just why William Morris, the poet and lover of har-
mony, should have selected this locality for a home is
quite beyond the average ken. Certainly it mystified
the fashionable literary world of London, with whom
he never kept goose-step, but that still kept track of
him for fashion has a way of patronizing genius and
some of his old friends wrote him asking where Ham-
mersmith was, and others expressed doubts as to its
existence, I had no difficulty in taking the right train
for Hammersmith, but once there no one seemed to
have ever heard of the Kelmscott Press. When I
inquired, grave misgivings seemed to arise as to whether
the press I referred to was a cider-press, a wine-press
or a press for " cracklings/*
Finally I discovered a man a workingman whose
face beamed at the mention of William Morris. Later
I found that if a man knew William Morris, his heart
throbbed at the mention of his name, and he at once
grew voluble and confidential and friendly. It was the
" Open Sesame/* And if a person did not know William
Morris, he simply did n't, and that was all there was
But the man I met knew " TV Ole Man," which was
the affectionate title used by all the hundreds and
thousands who worked with William Morris. And to
prove that he knew him, when I asked that he should
direct me to the Upper Mall, he simply insisted on going
with me. Moreover, he told a needless lie and declared
he was on the way there, although when we met he was
headed in the other direction. By a devious walk of
half a mile we reached the high iron fence of Kelm-
scott House. We arrived amid a florid description of the
Icelandic Sagas as told by my new-found friend and in-
terpreted by Th' Ole Man. My friend had not read
the Sagas, but still he did not hesitate to recommend
them; and so we passed through the wide-open gates
and up the stone walk to the entrance of Kelmscott
House. On the threshold we met F. S. Ellis and Emery
Walker, who addressed my companion as '* Tom."
I knew Mr. Ellis slightly, and also had met Mr. Walker,
who works Rembrandt miracles with a camera Si
Mr. Ellis was deep in seeing the famous " Chaucer **
through the press, and Mr. Walker had a print to show,
so we turned aside, passed a great pile of paper in craves
that cluttered the hallway, and entered the library.
There, leaning over the long, oaken table, in shirt-
sleeves, was the master. Who could mistake that great,
shaggy head, the tangled beard, and frank, open-eyed
look of boyish animation?
The man was sixty and more, but there was no appear-
ance of age in eye, complexion, form or gesture only
the whitened hair! He greeted me as if we had always
known each other, and Ellis and piles of Chaucer
proof led straight to old Professor Child of Harvard,
whose work Ellis criticized and Morris upheld. They
fell into a hot argument, which was even continued as
we walked across the street to the Doves Bindery 5$
The Doves Bindery, as all good men know, is managed
by Mr* Cobden-Sanderson, who married one of the
two daughters of Richard Cobden of Corn-Law fame*
*fjust why Mr. Sanderson, the lawyer, should have
borrowed his wife's maiden name and made it legally a
part of his own, I do not know. Anyway, I quite like
the idea of linking one's name with that of the woman
one loves, especially when it has been so honored by
the possessor as the name of Cobden.
Cobden-Sanderson caught the rage for beauty from
William Morris, and began to bind books for his own
pleasure. Morris contended that any man who could bind
books as beautifully as Cobden-Sanderson should not
waste his time with law. Cobden-Sanderson talked
it over with his wife, and she being a most sensible
woman, agreed with William Morris S& So Cobden-
Sanderson, acting on Th* Ole Man's suggestion, rented
the quaint and curious mansion next door to the old
house occupied by the Kelmscott Press, and went to
work binding books.
When we were once inside the Bindery, the Chau-
cerian argument between Mr. Ellis and TV Ole Man
shifted off into a wrangle with Cobden-Sanderson. I
could not get the drift of it exactly it seemed to be
the continuation of some former quarrel about an oak
leaf or something. Anyway, Th' Ole Man silenced his
opponent by smothering his batteries all of which
will be better understood when I explain that TV Ole
Man was large in stature, bluff, bold and strong-voiced,
whereas Cobden-Sanderson is small, red-headed, meek,
and wears bicycle-trousers.
The argument, however, was not quite so serious an
affair as I at first supposed, for it all ended in a laugh
and easily ran off into a quiet debate as to the value
of Imperial Japan versus Whatman.
We walked through the various old parlors that now
do duty as workrooms for bright-eyed girls, then over
through the Kelmscott Press, and from this to another
old mansion that had on its door a brass plate so pol-
ished and repolished, like a machine-made sonnet too
much gone over, that one can scarcely make out its
intent. Finally I managed to trace the legend, *' The
Seasons." I was told it was here that Thomson, the
poet, wrote his book. Once back in the library of
Kelmscott House, Mr. Ellis and Th' Ole Man leaned
over the great oaken table and renewed, in a gentler
key, the question as to whether Professor Child was
justified in his construction of the Third Canto of the
" Canterbury Tales/' Under cover of the smoke I
quietly disappeared with Mr. Cockerill, the Secretary,
for a better view of the Kelmscott Press.
This was my first interview with William Morris. By
chance I met him again, some days after, at the shop
of Emery Walker in Clifford Court, Strand. I had been
told on divers occasions by various persons that William
Morris had no sympathy for American art and small
respect for our literature. I am sure this was not wholly
true, for on this occasion he told me he had read * ' Huckle-
berry Finn/* and doted on "Uncle Remus/' He also
spoke with affection and feeling of Walt Whitman, and
told me that he had read every printed word that
Emerson had written. And further he congratulated
me on the success of my book, " Songs From Vaga-
HE housekeeping world seems to have been
in thrall to six haircloth chairs, a slippery
sofa to match, and a very cold, marble-top
center table, from the beginning of this cen-
tury down to comparatively recent times. In all the best
homes there was also a marble mantel to match the
center table; on one end of this mantel was a blue glass
vase containing a bouquet of paper roses, and on the
other a plaster-of-Paris cat. Above the mantel hung a
wreath of wax flowers in a glass case. In such houses
were usually to be seen gaudy-colored carpets, imitation
lace curtains, and a what-not in the corner that seemed
ready to go into dissolution through the law of gravi-
tation, ^f Early in the Seventies lithograph-presses began
to make chromos that were warranted just as good as
oil-paintings, and these were distributed in millions by
enterprising newspapers as premiums for subscriptions.
Looking over an old file of the " Christian Union " for
the year Eighteen Hundred Seventy-one, I chanced
upon an editorial wherein it was stated that the end of
painting pictures by hand had come, and the writer
piously thanked heaven for it and added, " Art is now
within the reach of all/* Furniture, carpets, curtains,
pictures and books were being manufactured by
machinery, and to glue things together and give them a
look of gentility and get them into a house before they
fell apart, was the seeming desideratum of all manu-
facturers 3$ 58
The editor of the " Christian Union " surely had a
basis of truth for his statement; art had received a
sudden chill : palettes and brushes could be bought for
half-price, and many artists were making five-year
contracts with lithographers; while those too old to
learn to draw on lithograph-stones saw nothing left
for them but to work designs with worsted in perforated
cardboard 53 $
To the influence of William Morris does the civilized
world owe its salvation from the mad rage and rush for
the tawdry and cheap in home decoration. It will
not do to say that if William Morris had not called a
halt some one else would, nor to cavil by declaring that
the inanities of the Plush-Covered Age followed the
Era of the Hair-Cloth Sofa. These things are frankly
admitted, but the refreshing fact remains that fully
one-half the homes of England and America have been
influenced by the good taste and vivid personality of
one strong, earnest man.
William Morris was the strongest all-round man the
century has produced. He was an Artist and a Poet in
the broadest and best sense of these much-bandied
terms. William Morris could do more things, and
do them well, than any other man of either ancient or
modern times whom we can name. William Morris was
master of six distinct trades. He was a weaver, a black-
smith, a wood-carver, a painter, a dyer and a printer;
and he was a musical composer of no mean ability.
Better than all, he was an enthusiastic lover of his
race: his heart throbbed for humanity, and believing
that society could be reformed only from below, he
cast his lot with the toilers, dressed as one of them,
and in the companionship of workingmen found a
response to his holy zeal which the society of an entailed
The main who could influence the entire housekeeping
of half a world, and give the kingdom of fashion a list
to starboard; who could paint beautiful pictures; com-
pose music; speak four languages; write sublime verse;
address a public assemblage effectively; produce plays;
resurrect the lost art of making books, books such as
were made only in the olden time as a loving, religious
service; who lived a clean, wholesome, manly life
beloved by those who knew him best shall we not
call him Master?
So, take and use Thy work.
Amend what flaws may lurk,
What strain o' the stuff, what warpings past the aim?
My times be in Thy hand!
Perfect the cup as planned!
Let age approve of youth, and death complete the same*
F there ever lived a poet to whom
the best minds pour out libations,
it is Robert Browning. We think of
him as dwelling on high Olympus;
we read his lines by the light of dim
candles; we quote him in sonorous
monotone at twilight when soft-
sounding organ-chants come to us
mellow and sweet. Browning's poems form a lover's
litany to that elect few who hold that the true mating
of a man and a woman is the marriage of the mind. And
thrice blest was Browning, in that Fate allowed him to
live his philosophy to work his poetry up into life, and
then again to transmute life and love into art. Fate was
kind: success came his way so slowly that he was never
subjected to the fierce, dazzling searchlight of publicity;
his recognition in youth was limited to a few obscure
friends and neighbors. And when distance divided him
from these, they forgot him; so there seems a hiatus in
his history, when for a score of years literary England
dimly remembered some one by the name of Browning,
but could not just place him.
About the year Eighteen Hundred Sixty-eight the
author of " Sordeflo " wats induced to appear at an
evening of " Uncut Leaves " at the house of a noble-
man at the West End, London. James Russell Lowell
was present and was congratulated by a lady, sitting
next to him, on the fact that Browning was an American.
<I " But only by adoption! " answered the gracious
Lowell 33 S3
" Yes," said the lady; " I believe his father was an
Englishman, so you Americans can not have all the
credit; but surely he shows the Negro or Indian blood
of his mother. Very clever, is n't he? so very clever! "
*f Browning's swarthy complexion, and the fine poise of
the man the entire absence of "nerves/' as often
shown in the savage seemed to carry out the idea
that his was a peculiar pedigree. In his youth, when
his hair was as black as the raven's wing and coarse
as a horse-tail, and his complexion mahogany, the
report that he was a Creole found ready credence. And
so did this gossip of mixed parentage follow him that
Mrs. Sutherland Orr, in her biography, takes an entire
chapter to prove that in Robert Browning's veins there
flowed neither Indian nor Negro blood.
Doctor Furnivall, however, explains that Browning's
grandmother on his father's side came from the West
Indies, that nothing is known of her family history,
and that she was a Creole.
And beyond this, the fact is stated that Robert Brown-
ing was quite pleased when he used to be taken for a
Jew a conclusion made plausible by his complexion,
hair and features.
In its dead-serious, hero-worshiping attitude, the life
of Robert Browning by Mrs. Orr deserves to rank
with Weems' " Life of Washington/* It is the brief
of an attorney for the defense. '" Little-Willie " anec-
dotes appear on every page.
And thus do we behold the tendency to make Brown-
ing something more than a man and, therefore, some-
Possibly women are given to this sort of thing more
than men I am not sure. But this I know, every young
woman regards her lover as a distinct and peculiar
personage, different from all others as if this were a
virtue the only one of his kind. Later, if Fate is kind,
she learns that her own experience is not unique. We
all easily fit into a type, and each is but a representative
of his class.
Robert Browning sprang from a line of clerks and small
merchants; but as indemnity for the lack of a family
'scutcheon, we are told that his uncle, Reuben Brown-
ing, was a sure-enough poet. For once in an idle hour he
threw off a little thing for an inscription to be placed
on a presentation ink-bottle, and Disraeli seeing it,
declared, *' Nothing like this has ever before been
written! " 53 S3
Beyond doubt, Disraeli made the statement it bears
his earmark. It will be remembered that the Earl of
Beaconsfield had a stock form for acknowledging receipt
of the many books sent to him by aspiring authors. It
ran something like this: " The Earl of Beaconsfield
begs to thank the gifted author of for a copy of
his book, and gives the hearty assurance that he will
waste no time in reading the volume."
And further, the fact is set forth with unction that
Robert Browning was entrusted with a latchkey early
in life, and that he always gave his mother a good-night
kiss. He gave her the good-night kiss willy-nilly. If she
had retired when he came home, he used the trusty
latchkey and went to her room to imprint on her lips
the good-night kiss. He did this, the biographer would
have us believe, to convince the good mother that his
breath was what it should be; and he awakened her
so she would know the hour was seasonable.
In many manufactories there is an electric apparatus
wherewith every employee registers when he arrives,
by turning a key or pushing a button. Robert Browning
always fearlessly registered as soon as he got home
this according to Mrs. Orr.
Unfortunately, or otherwise, there is a little scattered
information which makes us believe that Robert
Browning's mother was not so fearful of her son's
conduct, nor suspicious as to his breath, as to lie awake
nights and keep tab on his hours. The world has never
denied that Robert Browning was entrusted with a
latchkey, and it cares little if occasionally, early in
life, he fumbled for the keyhole. And my conception
of his character is such that, when in the few in-
stances Aurora, rosy goddess of the morn, marked his
homecoming with chrome-red in the eastern sky, ke
did not search the sleeping-rooms for his mother to
apprise her of the hour.
In one place Mrs. Orr avers, in a voice hushed with
emotion, that Browning carefully read all of Johnson's
Dictionary " as a fit preparation for a literary career."
<I Without any attempt to deny that the perusal of a
dictionary is " fit preparation for a literary career," I
yet fear me that the learned biographer, in a warm
anxiety to prove the man exceeding studious and very
virtuous, has tipped a bit to t* other side.
She has apotheosized her subject and in an attempt
to portray him as a peculiar person, set apart, has well-
nigh given us a being without hands, feet, eyes, ears^
organs, dimensions, passions.
But after a careful study of the data, various visits to
the places where he lived in England, trips to Casa
Guidi, views from Casa Guidi windows, a journey to
Palazzo Rezzonico at Venice, where he died, and many
a pious pilgrimage to Poets' Corner, in Westminster
Abbey, where he sleeps, I am constrained to believe that
Robert Browning was made from the same kind of clay
as the rest of us. He was human he was splendidly
human 33 53
ROWNING'S father was a bank-clerk; and
Robert Browning, the Third, author of "Para-
celsus/* could have secured his father's place
in the Bank of England, if he had had
ambitions. And the fact that he had not was a source
of silent sorrow to the father, even to the day of his
death, in Eighteen Hundred Sixty-six.
Robert Browning, the grandfather, entered the Bank
as an errand-boy, and rose by slow stages to Principal
of the Stock-Room. He served the Bank full half a
century, and saved from his salary a goodly competence.
This money, tightly and rightly invested, passed to his
son. The son never secured the complete favor of his
employers that the father had known, but he added to
his weekly stipend by what a writer terms, " legiti-
mate perquisites." This, being literally interpreted,
means that he purchased paper, pens and sealing-wax
for the use of the Bank, and charged the goods in at his
own price, doubtless with the consent of his superior,
with whom he divided profits. He could have parodied
the remark of Fletcher of Saltoun and said, ** Let me
supply the perquisite-requisites and I care not who
makes the laws/' So he grew rich moderately rich
and lived simply and comfortably up at Camberwell,
with only one besetting dissipation: he was a book-
collector and had learned more Greek than Robert
the Third was to acquire. He searched bookstalls on the
way to the City in the morning, and lay in wait for
First Editions on the way home at night. When Ke had
a holiday, he went in search of a book. He sneaked
books into the house, and declared to his admonishing
wife the next week that he had always owned 'em, or
that they were presented to him. The funds his father
had left him, his salary and " the perquisites," made a
goodly income, but he always complained of poverty.
He was secretly hoarding sums so as to secure certain
books 33 33
The shelves grew until they reached the ceiling, and
then bookcases invaded the dining-room. The col-
lector did n't trust his wife with the household pur-
chasing; no bank-clerk ever does and all the pennies
were needed for books. The good wife, having nothing
else to do, grew anemic, had neuralgia and lapsed into
a Shut-In, wearing a pale-blue wrapper and reclining
on a couch, around which were piled mountain-high
books 33 33
The pale invalid used to imagine that the great cases
were swaying and dancing a minuet, and she fully
expected the tomes would all come a- toppling down and
smother her and she did n't care much if they would;
but they never did. She was the mother of two children
the boy Robert, born the year after her marriage;
and in a little over another year a daughter came, and
this closed the family record.
The invalid mother was a woman of fine feeling and
much poetic insight. She did n't talk as much about
books as her husband did, but I think she knew the
good ones better. The mother and son moused in books
together, and Mrs. Orr is surely right in her suggestion
that this love of mother and son took upon itself the
nature of a passion.
The love of Robert Browning for Elizabeth Barrett
was a revival and a renewal, in many ways, of the
condition of tenderness and sympathy that existed
between Browning and his mother. There certainly
was a strange and marked resemblance in the char-
acters of Elizabeth Barrett and the mother of Robert
Browning; and to many this fully accounts for the
instant affection that Browning felt toward the occu-
pant of the ** darkened room," when first they met 33
The book-collector took much pride in his boy, and
used to take him on book-hunting excursions, and some^
times to the Bank, on which occasions he would tell
the Beef-Eaters how this was Robert Browning, the
Third, and that all three of the R. B/s were loyal
servants of the Bank. And the Beef-Eaters would rest
their staves on the stone floor, and smile Fifteenth-
Century grimaces at the boy from under their cocked
hats 33 33
Robert the Third was a healthy, rollicking lad, with
power plus, and a deal of destructiveness in his nature.
But destructiveness in a youngster is only energy not
yet properly directed, just as dirt is useful matter in
die wrong place,
To keep the boy out of mischief, he was sent to a sort
of kindergarten, kept by a spinster around the corner.
The spinster devoted rather more attention to the
Browning boy than to her other pupils she had to,
to keep him out of mischief and soon the boy was
quite the head scholar*
And they tell us that he was so much more clever
than any of the other scholars that, to appease the
rising jealousy of the parents of the other pupils, the
diplomatic spinster requested that the boy be removed
from her school all this according to the earnest biog-
rapher. The facts are that the boy had so much energy
and restless ambition; was so full of brimming curiosity,
mischief and imagination introducing turtles, bats and
mice on various occasions that he led the whole school
a merry chase and wore the nerves of the ancient
maiden to a frazzle.
He had to go.
After this he studied at home with his mother. His
father laid out a schedule, and it was lived up to, for
about a week.
Then a private tutor was tried, but soon this plan was
abandoned, and a system of reading, best described
as " natural selection/* was followed.
The boy was fourteen, and his sister was twelve, past.
These are the ages when children often experience a
change of heart, as all " revivalists " know. Robert
Browning was swinging off towards atheism. He grew
melancholy, irritable and wrote stanzas of sentimental
verse. He showed this verse, high-sounding, stilted,
bold and bilious, to his mother and then to his father,
and finally to Lizzie Flower.
A word about Lizzie Flower: She was nine years older
than Robert Browning; and she had a mind that was
gracious and full of high aspiration. She loved books,
art, music, and all harmony made its appeal to her
and not in vain. She wrote verses and, very sensibly,
kept them locked in her workbox; and then she painted
in water-colors and worked in worsted. A thoroughly
good woman, she wets far above the average in character,
with a half-minor key in her voice and a tinge of the
heartbroken in her composition, caused no one just
knew how. Probably a certain young curate at Saint
Margaret's could have thrown light on this point; but
he married, took on a double chin, moved away to a fat
living and never told.
No woman is ever wise or good until destiny has sub-
dued her by grinding her fondest hopes into the dust 35
Lizzie Flower was wise and good.
She gave singing lessons to the Browning children.
She taught Master Robert Browning to draw.
She read to him some of her verses that were in the
sewing-table drawer. And her sister, Sarah Flower,
two years older, afterwards Sarah Flower Adams, read
aloud to them a hymn she had just written, called,
" Nearer, My God, to Thee."
Then soon Master Robert showed the Flower girls
some of the verses he had written.
Robert liked Lizzie Flower first-rate, and told his
mother so. A young woman never cares anything for an
unlicked cub, nine years younger than herself, unless
Fate has played pitch and toss with her heart's true
love. And then, the tendrils of the affections being
ruthlessly lacerated and uprooted, they cling to the
first object that presents itself.
Lizzie Flower was a wallflower. That is to say, she
had early in life rid herself of the admiration of the
many, by refusing to supply an unlimited amount of
small talk. In feature she was as plain as George Eliot.
A boy is plastic, and even a modest wallflower can
woo him; but a man, for her, inspires awe with him
she takes no liberties. And the wallflower woos the
youth unwittingly, thinking the while she is only using
her influence the better to instruct him.
It is fortunate for a boy escaping adolescence to be
educated and loved (the words are synonymous) by a
good woman. Indeed, the youngster who has not vio-
lently loved a woman old enough to be his mother has
dropped something out of his life that he will have to
go back and pick up in another incarnation.
I said Robert liked Lizzie Flower first-rate; and she
declared that he was the brightest and most receptive
pupil she had ever had.
He was seventeen she was twenty-six. They read
Shelley, Keats and Byron aloud, and together passed
through the " Byronic Period/' They became violently
atheistic, and at the same time decidedly religious:
things that seem paradoxical, but are not. They
adopted a vegetable diet and for two years they
eschewed meat. They worshiped in the woods, feeling
that the groves were God's first temples; and sitting at
the gnarled roots of some great oak, they would read
aloud, by turn, from "Queen Mab."
On one such excursion out across Hampstead Heath
they lost their copy of " Shelley " in the leaves, and a
wit has told us that it sprouted, and as a result the
flower and fruit we have Browning's poem of '* Paul-
ine." And this must be so, for Robert and Miss Flower
(he always called her " Miss Flower," but she called
him " Robert ") made many an excursion, in search of
the book, yet they never found it.
Robert now being eighteen, a man grown not large,
but very strong and wiry his father made arrange-
ments for him to take a minor clerkship in the Bank.
But the boy rebelled he was going to be an artist, or
a poet, or something like that.
The father argued that a man could be a poet and still
work in a bank the salary was handy; and there was
no money in poetry. In fact, he himself was a poet, as
his father had been before him. To be a bank-clerk and
at the same time a poet what nobler ambition!
The young man was still stubborn. He was feeling
discontented with his environment: lie was cramped,
cabined, cribbed, confined. He wanted to get out of
the world of petty plodding and away from the silly
round of conventions, out into the world of art or
else of barbarism he did n't care which.
The latter way opened first, and a bit of wordy warfare
with his father on the subject of idleness sent him
off to a gipsy camp at Epsom Downs. How long he
lived with the vagabonds we do not know, but his
swarthy skin, and his skill as a boxer and wrestler,
recommended him to the ragged gentry, and they
received him as a brother.
It is probable that a week of pure vagabondia cured
him of the idea that civilization is a disease, for he
came back home, made a bonfire of his attire, and af ter
a vigorous tubbing, was clothed in his right mind.
Groggy studies in French under a private tutor followed,
and then came a term as special student in Greek at
To be nearer the school, he took lodgings in Gower
Street; but within a week a slight rough-house inci-
dent occurred that crippled most of the furniture in
his room and deprived the stair-rail of its spindles.
R. Browning, the Second, bank-clerk, paid the damages,
and R. Browning, the Third, aged twenty, came back
home, formally notifying all parties concerned that he
had chosen a career it was Poetry. He would woo the
Divine Goddess, no matter who opposed. There, now!
His mother was delighted; his father gave reluctant
consent, declaring that any course in life was better
than vacillation; and Miss Flower, who probably had
sown the dragon's teeth, assumed a look of surprise, but
gave it as her opinion that Robert Browning would
yet be Poet Laureate of England.
JOBERT BROWNING awoke one morning
with a start it was the morning of his
thirtieth birthday. One's thirtieth birthday
and one's seventieth are days that press their
message home with iron hand. With his seventieth mile-
stone past, a man feels that his work is done, and dim
voices call to him from across the Unseen. His work is
done, and so illy, compared with what he had wished
and expected! But the impressions made upon his heart
by the day are no deeper than those his thirtieth birth-
day inspires. At thirty, youth, with all it palliates and
excuses, is gone forever. The time for mere fooling is
past; the young avoid you, or else look up to you as a
Nestor and tempt you to grow reminiscent. You are a
man and must give an account of yourself.
Out of the stillness came a Voice to Robert Browning
saying, " What hast thou done with the talent I gave
thee? " & 33
What had herdone? It seemed to him at the moment
as if he had done nothing. He arose and looked into
the mirror. A few gray hairs were mixed in his beard;
there were crow's feet on his forehead; and the first
joyous flush of youth had gone from his face forever.
He was a bachelor, inwardly at war with his environ-
ment, but making a bold front with his tuppence worth
of philosophy to conceal the unrest within.
A bachelor of thirty, strong in limb, clear in brain and
yet a dependent! No one but himself to support, and
could n't even do that! Gadzooks! Fie upon all poetry
and a plague upon this dumb, dense, shopkeeping, beer-
drinking nation upon which the sun never sets!
The father of Robert Browning had done everything
a father could. He had supplied board and books, and
given his son an allowance of a pound a week for ten
years. He had sent him on a journey to Italy, and
published several volumes of the young man's verse
at his own expense. And these books were piled high
in the garret, save a few that had been bought by
charitable friends or given away.
Robert Browning was not discouraged oh no, not
that! only the world seemed to stretch out in a dull,
monotonous gray, where once it was green, the color
of hope, and all decked with flowers.
The little literary world of London knew Browning and
respected him. He was earnest and sincere and his
personality carried weight. His face was not handsome,
but his manner was one of poise and purpose; and^to
come within his aura and look into his calm eyes was
to respect the man and make obeisance to the intellect
that you felt lay behind.
A few editors had gone out of their way to " discover "
him to the world, but their lavish reviews fell flat.
Buyers would not buy no one seemed to want the
wares of Robert Browning. He was hard to read, diffi-
cult, obscure or else there was n't anything in it at all
they did n't know which.
Fox, editor of the "Repository," had met Browning
at the Flowers* and liked him. He tried to make his
verse go, but could n't. Yet he did what he could and
insisted that Browning should go with him to the
" Sunday evenings " at Barry Cornwall's. There Brown-
ing met Leigh Hunt, Monckton Milnes and Dickens 33
Then there were dinner-parties at Sergeant Talfourd's,
where he got acquainted with Wordsworth, Walter
Savage Landor and Macready.
Macready impressed him greatly and he impressed
Macready. He gave the actor a copy of " Paracelsus **
(one of the pile in the garret) and Macready suggested
he write a play. " Straff ord " was the result, and we
know it was stillborn, and caused a very frosty feeling
to exist for many a year between the author and the
actor. When a play fails, the author blames the actor and
the actor damns the author. These men were human.
^Of course Browning's kinsmen all considered him
a failure, and when the father paid over the weekly
allowance he often rubbed it in a bit. Lizzie Flower
had modified her prophecy as to the Laureateship, but
was still loyal. They had tiffed occasionally, and broken
off the friendship, and once I believe returned letters.
To marry was out of the question he could n't sup-
port himself and besides that, they were old, demnition
old; he was past thirty and she was forty Gramercy!
Then they made up*
In the meantime Browning had formed a friendship,
very firm and frank, but strictly Platonic, of course, for
Fanny Haworth. Miss Haworth had seen more of the
world than Miss Flower she was an artist, a writer,
and moved in the best society. Browning and Miss
Haworth wrote letters to each other for a while most
every day, and he called on her every Wednesday and
Miss Haworth bought and gave away many copies of
"Pauline," " Sordello " and "Paracelsus"; and in-
formed her friends that " Pippa Passes " and " Two in
a Gondola " were great quality.
About this time we find Edward Moxon, the publisher
(who married the adopted daughter of Charles and
Mary Lamb), saying to Browning: " Your verse is all
right, Browning, but a book of it is too much: people
are appalled; they can not digest it. And when it goes
into a magazine it is lost in the mass. Now just let me
get out your work in little monthly instalments, in
booklet form, and I think it will go/'
Browning jumped at the idea.
The booklets were gotten out in paper covers and
offered at a moderate price.
They sold, and sold well. The literary elite bought
them by the dozen to give away.
People began to talk about Browning rhe was getting
a foothold. His royalties now amounted to as much as
the weekly allowance from his father, and Pater was
talking of cutting off the stipend entirely. Finances
being easy, Browning thought it a good time to take
another look at Italy. Some of the best things he had
written had been inspired by Venice and Asolo he
would go again. And so he engaged passage on a sailing-
ship for Naples.
JIHORTLY after Browning's return to London,
in Eighteen Hundred Forty-four, he dined at
Sergeant Talfourd's* After the dinner a well-
dressed and sprightly old gentleman intro-
duced himself and begged that Browning would inscribe
a copy of " Bells and Pomegranates/' that he had
gotten specially bound. There is an ancient myth about
writers being harassed by autograph-fiends and all
that; but the simple fact is, nothing so warms the cockles
of an author's heart as to be asked for his autograph. Of
course Browning graciously complied with the gentle-
man's request, and in order that he might insert the
owner's name in the inscription, asked:
" What name, please? "
And the answer was, " John Kenyon/'
Then Mr. Browning and Mr. Kenyon had a nice little
visit, talking about books and art. And Mr. Kenyon
told Mr. Browning that Miss Elizabeth Barrett, the
poetess, was a cousin of his he was a bit boastful of
the fact 33 33
And Mr. Browning nodded and said he had often
heard of her, and admired her work.
Then Mr. Kenyon suggested that Mr. Browning write
and tell her so " You see she has just gotten out a
new book, and we are all a little nervous about how
it is going to take. Miss Barrett lives in a darkened
room, you know sees no one and a letter from a
man like you would encourage her greatly/*
Mr. Kenyon wrote the address of Miss Barrett on a
card and pushed it across the table.
Mr. Browning took the card, put it in his pocketbook
and promised to write Miss Barrett, as Mr. Kenyon
requested 53 53
And he did.
Miss Barrett replied,
Mr. Browning answered, and soon several letters a
week were going in each direction.
Not quite so many missives were being received by
Fanny Haworth; and as for Lizzie Flower, I fear she
was quite forgotten. She fell into a decline, drooped
and died in a year.
Mr. Browning asked for permission to call on Miss
Barrett 53 53
Miss Barrett explained that her father would not allow
it, neither would the doctor or nurse, and added : " There
is nothing to see in me. I am a weed fit for the ground
But this repulse only made Mr. Browning want to see
her the more. He appealed to Mr. Kenyon, who was
the only person allowed to call, besides Miss Mitford
Mr. Kenyon was her cousin.
Mr. Kenyon arranged it he was an expert at arranging
anything of a delicate nature. He tinned the hour when
Mr. Barrett was down town, and the nurse and doctor
safely out of the way, and they called on the invalid
prisoner in the darkened toom.
They did not stay long, but when they went away Robert
Browning trod on air. The beautiful girl-like face, in its
frame of dark curls, lying back among the pillows,
haunted him like a shadow. He was thirty-three, she
was thirty-five. She looked like a child, but the mind
the subtle, appreciative, receptive mind! The mind that
caught every allusion, that knew his thought before he
voiced it, that found nothing obscure in his work, and
that put a high and holy construction on his every
sentence it was divine I divinity incarnated in a woman.
<I Robert Browning tramped the streets forgetful of
meat, drink or rest.
He would give this woman freedom. He would devote
himself to restoring her to the air and sunshine. What
nobler ambition I He was an idler, he had never done
anything for anybody. He was only a killer of time, a
vagrant, but now was his opportunity he would do
for this beautiful soul what no one else on earth could
do. She was slipping away as it was the world would
soon lose her. Was there none to save?
Here was the finest intellect ever given to a woman
so sure, so vital, so tender and yet so strong!
He would love her back to life and light!
And so Robert Browning told her all this shortly after,
but before he told, she had divined his thought. For
solitude and loneliness and heart-hunger had given her
the power of an astral being; she was in communica-
tion with all the finer forces that pervade our ether.
He would love her back to life and light he told her
so. She grew better. Cf And soon we find her getting up
and throwing wide the shutters. It was no longer the
darkened room, for the sunlight came dancing through
the apartment, driving out all the dark shadows that
lurked therein 5S The doctor was indignant; the nurse
resigned. <f Of course, Mr, Barrett was not taken into
confidence and no one asked his consent. Why should
they? he was the man who could never understand 33
So one fine day when the coast was clear, the couple
went over to Saint Marylebone Church and were mar-
ried. The bride went home alone could walk all right
now and it was a week before her husband saw her,
because he would not be a hypocrite and go ring the
doorbell and ask if Miss Barrett was home; and of
course if he had asked for Mrs. Robert Browning, no
one would have known whom he wanted to see.
But at the end of a week, the bride stole down the
stairs, while the family was at dinner, leading her dog
Flush by a string, and all the time, with throbbing heart,
she prayed the dog not to bark. I have oft wondered in
the stilly night season what the effect on English Let-
ters would have been, had the dog really barked! But
the dog did not bark; and Elizabeth met her lover-hus-
band there on the corner where the mail-box is. No one
missed the runaways until the next day, and then the
bride and groom were safely in France, writing letters back
from Dieppe, asking forgiveness and craving blessings.
]HE is the Genius and I am the Clever Person,"
Browning used to say. And this I believe will
be the world's final judgment.
Browning knew the world in its every phase
good and bad, high and low, society and commerce, the
shop and gypsy camp. He absorbed things, assimilated
them, compared and wrote it out.
Elizabeth Barrett had never traveled, her opportunities
for meeting people had been few, her experiences
limited, and yet she evolved truth: she secreted
beauty from within.
For two years after their elopement they did not write
how could they? goodness me! They were on their
wedding-tour. They lived in Florence and Rome and
in various mountain villages in Italy.
Health came back, and joy and peace and perfect love
were theirs. But it was joy bought with a price Eliz-
abeth Barrett Browning had forfeited the love of her
father. Her letters written him came back unopened,
books inscribed to him were returned he declared she
Her brothers, too, discarded her, and when her two
sisters wrote, they did so by stealth, and their letters,
meant to be kind, were steel for her heart. Then her
father was rich; and she had always known every
comfort that money could buy. Now, she had taken up
with a poor poet, and every penny had to be counted
absolute economy was demanded 33 And Robert
Browning, with a certain sense of guilt upon him, for
depriving her of all the creature comforts she had
known, sought by tenderness and love to make her
forget the insults her father heaped upon her.
As for Browning, the bank-clerk, he was vexed that his
son should show so little caution as to load himself up
with an invalid wife, and he cut off the allowance,
declaring that if a man was old enough to marry, he was
also old enough to care for himself. He did, however,
make his son several " loans " ; and finally came to
" bless the day that his son had sense enough to marry
the best and most talented woman on earth."
Browning's poems were selling slowly, and Mrs. Brown-
ing's books brought her a little royalty, thanks to the
loyal management of John Kenyon, and so absolute
want and biting poverty did not overtake the runaways.
flf After the birth of her son, in Eighteen Hundred Forty-
nine, Mrs. Browning's health seemed to have fully
returned. She used to ride horseback up and down the
mountain passes, and wrote home to Miss Mitford that
love had turned the dial backward and the joyousness
of girlhood had come again to her.
When John Kenyon died and left them ten thousand
pounds, all their own, it placed them forever beyond
the apprehension of want, and also enabled them to do
for others; for they pensioned old Walter Savage Lan~
dor, and established him in comfortable quarters around
the comer from Casat GuidL
I intimated a moment ago that their honeymoon con-
tinued for two years. This was a mistake, for it con-
tinued for just fifteen years, when the beautiful girl-like
form, with her head of flowing curls upon her husband's
shoulder, ceased to breathe. Painlessly and without
apprehension or premonition, the spirit had taken its
flight 33 53
That letter of Miss Blagdon's, written some weeks
after, telling of how the stricken man paced the echoing
hallways at night crying, " I want her! I want her! "
touches us like a great, strange sorrow that once pierced
But Robert Browning's nature was too strong to be
subdued by grief. He remembered that others, too,
had buried their dead, and that sorrow had been man's
portion since the world began. He would live for his
boy for Her child.
But Florence was no longer his Florence, and he made
haste to settle up his affairs and go back to England.
He never returned to Florence, and never saw the
beautiful monument, designed by his lifelong friend,
When you visit the little English Cemetery at Florence,
the slim little girl that comes down the path, swinging
the big bunch of keys, opens the high iron gate and
leads you, without word or question, straight to the
grave of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Browning was forty-nine when Mrs. Browning died.
And by the time he had reached his fiftieth meridian,
England, harkening to America's suggestion, was
awakening to the fact that he was one of the workTs
Honors came slowly, but surely: Oxford with a degree;
Saint Andrew's with a Lord-Rectorship; publishers
with advance payments. And when Smith and Elder
paid one hundred pounds for the poem of " Herve
Kiel," it seemed that at last Browning's worth was
being recognized. Not, of course, that money is the
infallible test, but even poetry has its Rialto, where
the extent of appreciation is shown by prices current 3$
Browning's best work was done after his wife's death;
and in that love he ever lived and breathed* In his
seventy-fifth year, it filled his days and dreams as
though it were a thing of yesterday, singing in his heart
a perpetual eucharist.
'* The Ring and the Book " must be regarded as
Browning's crowning work. Offhand critics have dis-
posed of it, but the great minds go back to it again and
again. In the character of Pompilia the author sought
to pay tribute to the woman whose memory was
ever in his mind; yet he was too sensitive and shrinking
to fully picture her. He sought to mask his inspiration;
but tender, loving recollections of " Ba " are inter-
laced and interwoven through it all.
When Robert Browning died, in Eighteen Hundred
Eighty-nine, the world of literature and art uncovered
in token of honor to one who had lived long and well
and had done a deathless work. And the doors of
storied Westminster opened wide to receive his dust,
Not of the sunlight,
Not of the moonlight,
Nor of the starlight!
Down to the haven,
Call your companions,
Launch your vessel,
And crowd your canvas,
And ere it vanishes
Over the margin,
After it, follow it,
Follow the Gleam.
HE grandfather of Tennyson had
two sons, the elder boy, according
to Clement Scott, being " both
wilful and commonplace." Now, of
course, the property and honors and
titles, according to the law of Eng-
land, would all gravitate to the
commonplace boy; and the second
son, who was competent, dutiful and worthy, would be
out in the cold world simply because he was acciden-
tally born second and not first. It was not his fault that
he was born second, and it was in no wise to the credit of
the other that he was born first.
So the father, seeing that the elder boy had small
executive capacity, and no appreciation of a Good
Thing, disinherited him, giving him, however, a generous
allowance, but letting the titles go to the second boy,
who was bright and brave and withal a right manly
f ellow & 33
Personally, I *m glad the honors went to the best man.
But Hallam Tennyson, son of the poet, sees only rank
injustice in the action of his ancestor, who deliberately
set his own opinion of right and justice against precedent
as embodied in English Law. As a matter of strictest
justice, we might argue that neither boy was entitled
to anything which he had not earned, and that, in
dividing the property between them, instead of allowing
it all to drift into the hands of the one accidentally born
first, the father acted wisely and welL
But neither Alfred nor Hallam Tennyson thought
so. How much their opinions were biased by the fact
that they were descendants of the firstborn son, we
can not say. Anyway, the descendants of the second
son, the Honorable Charles Tennyson d'Eyncourt, have
made no protest of which I can learn, about justice
having been defeated.
Considering this subject of the Law of Entail one step
further, we find that Hallam, the present Lord Tenny-
son, is a Peer of the Realm simply because his father
was a great poet, and honors were given him on that
account by the Queen. These honors go to Hallam, who,
as all men agree, is in many ways singularly like his
Genius is not hereditary, but titles are. Hallam is
eminently pleased with the English Law of Entail, save
that he questions whether any father has the divine
right to divert his titles and wealth from the eldest
son. Lord Hallam's arguments are earnest and well
expressed, but they seem to show that he is lacking
in what Herbert Spencer calls the " value sense " in
other words, the sense of humor.
Hallam's lack of perspective is further demonstrated
by his patient efforts to explain who the various Ten-
Dysons were. In my boyhood days I thought there
was but one Tennyson. On reading Hallam's book,
however, one would think there were dozens of them.
To keep these various men, bearing one name, from
being confused in the mind of the reader, is quite a task;
and to better identify one particular Tennyson, Hallam
always refers to him as " Father," or " My Father/*
In the course of a recent interview with W. H. Seward,
of Auburn, New York, I was impressed by his dignified,
respectful, and affectionate references to " Seward."
" This belonged to Seward," and " Seward told me**
as though there were but one. In these pages I will
speak of Tennyson there has been_but one there
will never be another.
THINK Clement Scott is a little severe in his
estimate of the character of Tennyson's father,
although the main facts are doubtless as he
states them. The Reverend George Clayton
Tennyson, Rector of Somersby and Wood Enderby
parishes, was a typical English parson. As a boy he was
simply big, fat and lazy. His health was so perfect that
it overtopped all ambition, and having no nerves to
speak of, his sensibilities were very slight.
When he was disinherited in favor of his younger
brother, a keen, nervous, forceful fellow, he accepted
it as a matter of course. His career was planned for
him: he " took orders/' married the young woman his
folks selected, and slipped easily into his proper niche
his adipose serving as a buffer for his feelings. In his
intellect there was no flash, and his insight into the
heart of things was small.
Being happily married to a discreet woman who man-
aged him without ever letting him be aware of it, and
having a sure and sufficient income, and never know-
ing that he had a stomach, he did his clerical work
(with the help of a curate), and lived out the measure
of his days, no wiser at the last than he was at thirty.
<I In passing, we may call attention to the fact that
the average man is a victim of Arrested Development,
and that the fleeting years bring an increase of knowl-
edge only in very exceptional cases. Health and pros-
perity are not pure blessings a certain element of
discontent is necessary to spur men on to a higher life*
<I The Reverend George Clayton Tennyson had income
enough to meet his wants, but not enough to embarrass
him with the responsibility of taking care of it. Each
quarterly stipend was spent before it arrived, and the
family lived on credit until another three months
rolled around. They had roast beef as often as they
wanted it; in the cellar were puncheons, kegs and
barrels, and as there was no rent to pay nor landlords
to appease, care sat lightly on the Rector.
Elizabeth, this man's wife, is worthy of more than a
passing note. She was the daughter of the Reverend
Stephen Fytche, vicar of Louth. Her family was not so
high in rank as the Tennysons, because the Tennysons
belonged to the gentry. But she was intelligent, amiable,
fairly good-looking, and being the daughter of a clergy-
man, had beyond doubt a knowledge of clerical needs;
so it was thought she would make a good wife for the
newly appointed incumbent of Somersby.
The parents arranged it, the young folks were willing,
and so they were married and the bridegroom was
happy ever afterward.
And why should n't he have been happy? Surely no
man was ever blessed with a better wife! He had made a
reach into the matrimonial grab-bag and drawn forth a
jeweL This jewel was many-faceted. Without affectation
or silly pride, the clergyman's wife did the work that
God sent her to do. The sense of duty was strong upon
her. Babies came, once each two years, and in one case
two in one year, and there was careful planning required
to make the income reach, and to keep the household in
order. Then she visited the poor and sick of the parish,
and received the many visitors. And with it all she
found time to read. Her mind was open and alert for
all good things. I am not sure that she was so very
happy, but no complaints escaped her. In all she bore
twelve children eight sons and four daughters. Ten
of these children lived to be over seventy-five years of
age. The fourth child that came to her they named
Alfred 3& &
ENNYSON'S education in early youth was
very slight. His father laid down rules and
gave out lessons, but the strictness of disci-
pline never lasted more than two days at a
time. The children ran wild and roamed the woods of
Lincolnshire in search of all the curious things that the
woods hold in store for boys. The father occasionally
made stern efforts to " correct '* his sons. In the use of
the birch he was ambidextrous. But I have noticed that
in households where a strap hangs behind the kitchen-
door, for ready use, it is not utilized so much for pure
discipline as to ease the feelings of the parent. They say
that expression is a need of the human heart; and I
am also convinced that in many hearts there is a very
strong desire at times to " thrash " some one. Who it
is makes little difference, but children being helpless
and the law giving us the right, we find gratification
by falling upon them with straps, birch-rods, slippers,
ferules, hairbrushes or apple-tree sprouts.
No student of pedagogics now believes that the free
use of the rod ever made a child "good " ; but all agree
that it has often served as a safety-valve for a pent-up
emotion in the parent or teacher.
The father of Alfred Tennyson applied the birch, and
the boy took to the woods, moody, resentful, solitary.
There was good in this, for the lad learned to live
within himself, and to be self-sufficient: to love the
solitude, and feel a kinship with all the life that makes
the groves and fields melodious. <J In Eighteen Hundred
Twenty-eight, when nineteen years of age, Alfred was
sent to Trinity College, Cambridge. He remained there
three years, but left without a degree, and what was
worse, with the ill-will of his teachers, who seemed to
regard his as a hopeless case. He would n't study the
books they wanted him to, and was never a candidate
for academic distinctions.
College life, however, has much to recommend it beside
the curriculum. At Cambridge, Tennyson made the
acquaintance of a group of young men who influenced
his life profoundly. Kemble, Milnes, Brookfield and
Spedding remained his lifelong friends; and as all good
is reciprocal, no man can say how much these eminent
men owe to the moody and melancholy Tennyson, or
how much he owes to them.
ENNYSON began to write verse very young.
His first line is said to have been written at
five, and he has told of going when thirteen
years of age to visit his grandfather, and of
presenting him a poem. The old gentleman gave him
half a guinea with the remark, " This is the first money
you ever made by writing poetry, and take my word for
it, it will be the last! " When eighteen years of age, with
his brother, Charles, he produced a thin book of thin
verses S& 33
We have the opinion of Coleridge to the effect that
the only lines which have any merit in the book are
those signed C. T. 3$ Charles became a clergyman of
marked ability, married rich, and changed his name
from Tennyson to Turner for economic and domestic
reasons. Years afterward, when Alfred had become
Poet Laureate, rumor has it he thought of changing
the " Turner " back to ** Tennyson/* but was unable
to bring it about.
The only honor captured by Alfred at Cambridge was
a prize for his poem, " Timbuctoo." The encourage-
ment that this brought him, backed up by Arthur
Hallam's declaiming the piece in public as a sort of
defi to detractors caused him to fix his attention more
assiduously on verse. He could write it was the only
thing he could do and so he wrote.
At Cambridge he was in the habit of reading his poetry
to a little coterie called " The Apostles," and he always
premised his reading with the statement that no
criticism would be acceptable.
The year he was twenty-one he published a small
book called, " Poems, Chiefly Lyrical." The books went
a-begging for many years; but times change, for a copy
of this edition was sold by Quaritch in Eighteen Hun-
dred Ninety-five for one hundred eighty pounds. The
only piece in the book that seems to show genuine merit
is ** Mariana. "
Two years afterward a second edition, revised and
enlarged, was brought out. This book contains " The
Lady of Shalott," " The May Queen," "A Dream of
Fair Women " and " The Lotus-Eaters."
Beyond a few fulsome reviews from personal friends
and a little surly mention from the tribe of Jeffrey, the
volume attracted little or no attention. This coldness
on the part of the public shot an atrabilarian tint
through the ambition of our poet, and the fond hope of
a success in literature faded from his mind.
And then began what Stopford Brooke has called " the
ten fallow years in the life of Tennyson/' But fallow
years are not all fallow. The dark brooding night is as
necessary for our life as the garish day. Great crops
of wheat that feed the nations grow only where the
winter's snow covers all as with a garment. And ever
behind the mystery of sleep, and beneath the silence
of the snow, Nature slumbers not nor sleeps.
The withholding of quick recognition gave the mind of
Tennyson an opportunity to ripen. Fate held him in
leash that he might be saved for a masterly work, and
all the time that he lived in semi-solitude and read and
thought and tramped the fields, his soul was growing
strong and his spirit was taking on the silken self-suf-
ficient strength that marked his later days. This hiatus
of ten years in the life of our poet is very similar to
the thirteen fallow years in the career of Browning.
These men crossed and recrossed each other's pathway,
but did not meet for many years. What a help they
might have been to each other in those years of doubt
and seeming defeat! But each was to make his way
alone 33 53
Browning seemed to grow through society and travel,
but solitude served the needs of Tennyson.
"* There must be a man behind every sentence," said
Emerson, After ten years of silence, when Tennyson
issued his book, the literary world recognized the man
behind it. Tennyson had grown as a writer, but more
as a man. And after all, it is more to be a man than a
poet. All who knew Tennyson, and have written of
him, especially during those early years, begin with a
description of his appearance. His looks did not belie
the man. In intellect and in stature he was a giant. The
tall, athletic form, the great shaggy head, the classic
features, and the look of untried strength were all
thrown into fine relief by the modesty, the half -embar-
rassment, of his manner.
To meet the poet was to acknowledge his power. No
man can talk as wise as he can look, and Tennyson
never tried to. His words were few and simple*
Those who met him went away ready to back his
lightest word. They felt there was a man behind the
sentence 33 $&
Carlyle, who was a hero-worshiper, but who usually
limited his worship to those well dead and long gone
hence, wrote of Tennyson to Emerson: " One of the
finest-looking men in the world. A great shock of dusky
hair; bright, laughing, hazel eyes; massive aquiline
face, most massive, yet most delicate; of sallow brown
complexion, almost Indian-looking, clothes cynically
loose, free and easy, smokes infinite tobacco. His voice
is musical, metallic, fit for loud laughter and piercing
wail, and all that may lie between; speech and specu-
lation free and plenteous; I do not meet in these late
decades such company over a pipe! We shall see what
he will grow to."
And then again, writing to his brother John: "Some
weeks ago, one night, the poet Tennyson and Matthew
Arnold were discovered here sitting smoking in the
garden. Tennyson had been here before, but was still
new to Jane who was alone for the first hour or two
of it. A fine, large-featured, dim-eyed, bronze-colored,
shaggy-headed man is Alfred; dusty, smoky, free and
easy; who swims outwardly and inwardly, with great
composure, in an articulate element as of tranquil chaos
and tobacco-smoke; great now and then when he does
emerge; a most restful, brotherly, solid-hearted man/'
<I The " English Idylls," put forth in Eighteen Hundred
Forty-two, contained all the poems, heretofore pub-
lished, that Tennyson cared to retain. It must be stated
to the credit, or discredit, of America, that the only
complete editions of Tennyson were issued by New
York and Boston publishers. These men seized upon
the immature early poems of Tennyson, and combining
them with his later books, issued the whole in a style
that tried men's eyes very proud of the fact that
" this is the only complete edition/' etc. Of course they
paid the author no royalty, neither did they heed his
protests, and possibly all this prepared the way for
frosty receptions of daughters of quick machine-made
American millionaires, who journeyed to the Isle of
Wight in after-days. Soon after the publication of
*" English Idylls/' Alfred Tennyson moved gracefully,
like a ship that is safely launched, into the first place
among living poets. He was then thirty-three years of
age, with just half a century, lacking a few months, yet
to live. In all that half-century, with its many conflict-
ing literary judgments, his title to first place was never
seriously questioned. Up to Eighteen Hundred Forty-
two, in his various letters, and through his close friends,
we learn that Tennyson was sore pressed for funds. He
had n't money to buy books, and when he traveled it
was through the nuinificence of some kind kinsman. He
even excuses himself from attending certain social
functions on account of his lack of suitable raiment
probably with a certain satisfaction.
But when he tells of his poverty to Emily Sellwood,
the woman of his choice, there is anguish in his cry.
In fact, her parents succeeded in breaking off her rela-
tions with Tennyson for a time, on account of his very
uncertain prospects. His brothers, even those younger
than he, had slipped into snug positions ** but Alfred
dreams on with nothing special in sight/' Poetry,
in way of a financial return, is not to be commended.
Honors were coming Tennyson's way as early as Eight-
een Hundred Forty-two, but it was not until Eighteen
Hundred Forty-five, when a pension of two hundred
pounds a year was granted him by the Government,
that he began to feel easy. Even then there were various
old scores to liquidate.
The year Eighteen Hundred Fifty, when he was forty-
one, has been called his " golden year," for in it occurred
the publication of " In Memoriam," his appointment
to the post of Poet Laureate, and his marriage.
Emily Sellwood had waited for him all these years.
She had been sought after, and had refused several
good oilers from eligible widowers and others who
pitied her sad plight and looked upon her as an old
maid forlorn. But she was true to her love for Alfred.
Possibly she had not been courted quite so assidu-
ously as Tennyson's mother had been. When that dear
old lady was past eighty she became very deaf, and
the family often ventured to carry on conversations in
her presence which possibly would have been modi-
fied had the old lady been in full possession of her
faculties. On a day as she sat knitting in the chimney-
corner, one of her daughters in a burst of confidence
to a visitor, said, " Why, before Mamma married Papa
she had received twenty- three offers of marriage! " 33
" Twenty-four, my dear twenty-four/* corrected the
old lady as she shifted the needles,
No one has ever claimed that Tennyson was an ideal
lover. Surely he never could have been tempted to do
what Browning did break up the peace of a house-
hold by an elopement. His love was a thing of the
head, weighed carefully in the scales of his judgment.
His caution and good sense saved him from all Byronic
excesses, or foolish alliances such as took Shelley cap-
tive. He believed in law and order, and early saw that
his interests lay in that direction. He belonged to the
Church of England, and doubtless thought as he pleased,
but ever expressed himself with caution.
It is easy to accuse Tennyson of being insular to say
that he is merely " the poet of England/' Had he been
more he would have been less. World-poets have
usually been revolutionists, and dangerous men who
exploded at an unknown extent of concussion. None
of them has been a safe man none respectable. Dante,
Shakespeare, Milton, Hugo and Whitman were outcasts.
Tennyson is always serene, sane and safe his lines
breathe purity and excellence. He is the poet of religion,
of the home and fireside, of established order, of truth,
justice and mercy as embodied in law.
Very early he became a close personal friend of Queen
Victoria, and many of his lines ministered to her personal
consolation. For fifty years Tennyson's life was one
steady, triumphal march. He acquired wealth, such as
no other English poet before him had ever gained; his
name was known in every corner of the earth where
white men journeyed, and at home he was beloved and
honored. He died October Sixth, Eighteen Hundred
Ninety-two, aged eighty-three, and for him the Nation
mourned, and with deep sincerity the Queen spoke of
his demise as a poignant, personal sorrow.
T was at Cambridge lie met Arthur Hallam
Arthur Hallam, immortal and remembered
alone for being the comrade and friend of
Tennyson 33 3&
Alfred took his friend Arthur to his home in Lincoln-
shire one vacation, and we know how Arthur became
enamored of Tennyson's sister Emily, and they were
betrothed. Together, Tennyson and Hallam made a
trip through France and the Pyrenees.
Carlyle and Milburn, the blind preacher, once sat
smoking in the little arbor back of the house in Cheyne
Row. They had been talking of Tennyson, and after a
long silence Carlyle knocked the ashes out of his pipe,
and with a grunt said: " Ha! Death is a great blessing
the joyousest blessing of all! Without death there
would ha' been no * In Memoriam/ no Hallam, and
like enough no Tennyson! " It is futile to figure what
would have occurred had this or that not happened,
since every act of life is a sequence. But that Carlyle
and many others believed that the death of Hallam
was the making of Tennyson, there is no doubt. Pos-
sibly his soul needed just this particular amount of
bruising in order to make it burst into undying song
who knows! When Charles Kingsley was asked for
the secret of his exquisite sympathy and fine imagina-
tion, he paused a space, and then answered ** I had a
friend/' The desire for friendship is strong in every
human heart. We crave the companionship of those who
can understand. The nostalgia of life presses, we sigh
for " home/' and long for the presence of one who
sympathizes with our aspirations, comprehends our
hopes and is able to partake of our joys. A thought is
not our own until we impart it to another, and the
confessional seems a crying need of every human soul.
<ff One can bear grief, but it takes two to be glad.
We reach the Divine through some one, and by divid^
ing our joy with this one we double it, and come in
touch with the Universal. The sky is never so blue,
the birds never sing so blithely, our acquaintances are
never so gracious, as when we are filled with love for
Being in harmony with one we are in harmony with all.
<I The lover idealizes and clothes the beloved with vir-
tues that exist only in his imagination. The beloved is
consciously or unconsciously aware of this, and endeav-
ors to fulfil the high ideal; and in the contemplation
of the transcendent qualities that his mind has created,
the lover is raised to heights otherwise unattainable,
f Should the beloved pass from the earth while this con-
dition of exaltation endures, the conception is indelibly
impressed upon the soul, just as the last earthly view
is said to be photographed upon the retina of the dead.
The highest earthly relationship is, in its very essence,
fleeting, for men are fallible, and living in a world
where material wants jostle, and time and change
play their ceaseless parts, gradual obliteration comes
and disillusion enters. But the memory of a sweet
affinity once fully possessed, and snapped by Fate at
its supremest moment, can never die from out the
heart. All other troubles are swallowed up in this, and
if the individual is of too stern a fiber to be completely
crushed into the dust, time will come bearing healing,
and the memory of that once ideal condition will chant
in the heart a perpetual eucharist.
And I hope the world has passed forever from the
nightmare of pity for the dead: they have ceased from
their labors and are at rest.
But for the living, when death has entered and removed
the best friend, Fate has done her worst; the plummet
has sounded the depths of grief, and thereafter nothing
can inspire terror. At one fell stroke all petty annoy-
ances and corroding cares are sunk into nothingness.
The memory of a great love lives enshrined in undying
amber. It affords a ballast 'gainst all the storms that
blow, and although it lends an unutterable sadness,
it imparts an unspeakable peace. Where there is this
haunting memory of a great love lost, there are always
forgiveness, charity and a sympathy that makes the
man brother to all who suffer and endure. The individual
himself is nothing: he has nothing to hope for, nothing
to lose, nothing to win, and this constant memory of
the high and exalted friendship that once was his is a
nourishing source of strength; it constantly purifies the
mind and inspires the heart to nobler living and diviner
thinking. The man is in communication with Elemental
Conditions 33 33
To know an ideal friendship and to have it fade from
your grasp and flee as a shadow before it is touched
with the sordid breath of selfishness, or sullied by mis-
understandings, is the highest good. And the constant
dwelling in sweet, sad recollection on the exalted virtues
of the one that has gone, tends to crystallize these very
virtues in the heart of him who meditates them. The
beauty with which love adorns its object becomes at
last the possession of the one who loves.
At the hour when the strong and helpful, yet tender
and sympathetic, friendship of Alfred Tennyson and
Arthur Hallam was at its height, there came a brief
and abrupt word from Vienna to the effect that Arthur
" In Vienna's fatal walls
God's finger touched him and he slept! "*
The shock of surprise, followed by duHxb, bitter grief,
made an impression on the youthful mind of Tennyson
that the sixty years which followed did not obliterate S&
At first a numbness and a deadness came over his spirit,
but this condition erelong gave way to a sweet con-
templation of the beauties of character that his friend
possessed, and he tenderly reviewed the gracious hours
they had spent together.
" In Memoriam " is not one poem; it is made up of
many " short swallow-flights of song that dip their
wings in tears and skim away." There are one hundred
thirty separate songs in all, held together by the silken
thread of love for the poet's lost friend.
Seventeen years were required for their evolution*
Some people, misled by the title, possibly, think of
these poems as a wail of grief for the dead, a vain cry
of sorrow for the lost, or a proud parading of mourning
millinery. Such views could not be more wholly wrong.
<I To every soul that has loved and lost, to those who
have stood by open graves, to all who have beheld the
sun go down on less worth in the world, these songs
are a victor's cry. They tell of love and life that rise
phenix-like from the ashes of despair; of doubt turned
to faith; of fear which has become serenest peace.
All poems that endure must have this helpful, uplifting
quality. Without violence of direction they must be
beacon-lights that gently guide stricken men and
women into safe harbors.
The " Invocation," written nearly a score of years
after Hallam's death, reveals Tennyson's personal
conquest of pain. His thought has broadened from the
sense of loss into a stately march of conquest over
death for the whole human race. The sharpness of
grief has wakened the soul to the contemplation of
sublime ideas truth, justice, nobility, honor, and the
sense of beauty as shown in all created things. The
man once loved a person now his heart goes out to
the universe. The dread of death is gone, and he calmly
contemplates his own end and waits the summons
without either impatience or fear. He realizes that
death itself is a manifestation of life that it is as
natural and just as necessary.
" Sunset and evening star
And one clear call for me,
And may there be no moaning of the bar
When I put out to sea/'
The desire for sympathy and the wish for friendship
are in his heart, but the fever of unrest and the spirit
of revolt are gone. His heart, his hope, his faith, his
Jif e, are freely laid on the altar of Eternal Love.
Come, let me take thee to my breast,
And pledge we ne'er shall sunder;
And I shall spurn, as vilest dust,
The warld's wealth and grandeur.
And do I hear my Jeannie own
That equal transports move her?
I ask for dearest life, alone,
That I may live to love her.
Thus in my arms, wi' a' thy charms,
I clasp my countless treasure;
I '11 seek nae mair o* heaven to share
Than sic a moment's pleasure.
And by thy een, sae bonnie blue,
I swear I 'm thine for ever:
And on thy lips I seal my vow,
And break it shall I never.
HE business of Robert Burns was
All love is good, but some kinds of
love are better than others. Through
Burns' penchant for falling in love
we have his songs. A Burns bibliog-
raphy is simply a record of his
love-affairs, and the spasms of re-
pentance that followed his lapses are made manifest in
Poetry is the very earliest form of literature, and is the
natural expression of a person in love; and I suppose we
might as well admit the fact at once that without love
there would be no poetry.
Poetry is the bill and coo of sex. All poets are lovers, and
all lovers, either actual or potential, are poets. Potential
poets are the people who read poetry; and so without
lovers the poet would never have a market for his wares.
f If you have ceased to be moved by religious emotion;
if your spirit is no longer exalted by music, and you do
not linger over certain lines of poetry, it is because the
love-instinct in your heart has withered to ashes of
roses. It is idle to imagine Bobby Burns as a staid
member of the Kirk; had he been so, there would now
be no Bobby Burns, The literary ebullition of Robert
Burns (he himself has told us) began shortly after he
had reached the age of indiscretion; and the occasion
was his being paired in the hayfield, according to the
Scottish custom, with a bonnie lassie. This custom of
pairing still endures, and is what the students of sociol-
ogy call an expeditious move. The Scotch are great
economists the greatest in the world. Adam Smith,
the father of the science of economics, was a Scotchman;
and Draper, author of " A History of Civilization,"
flatly declares that Adam Smith's " Wealth of Nations "
has influenced the people of Earth for good more than
any other book ever written save none.
The Scotch are great conservators of energy.
The practise of pairing men and women in the hayfield
gets the work done. One man and one woman going
down the grass-grown path afield might linger and dally
by the way. They would never make hay, but a company
of a dozen or more men and women would not only
reach the field, but do a lot of work. In Scotland the
hay-harvest is short when the grass is in bloom, just
right to make the best hay, it must be cut. And so the
men and women, the girls and boys, sally forth. It is
a jolly picnic-time, looked forward to with fond antici-
pation, and after recalled with sweet, sad memories,
or otherwise, as the case may be.
But they all make hay while the sun shines, and count
it joy. Liberties are allowed during haying-time that
otherwise would be declared scandalous; during haying-
time the Kirk waives her censor's right, and priest
and people mingle ^joyously. Wives are not jealous
during hay-harvest, and husbands never faultfinding,
because they each get even by allowing a mutual
license. In Scotland during haying-time every married
man works alongside of some other man's wife. To the
psychologist it is somewhat curious how the desire
for propriety is overridden by a stronger desire the
desire for the shilling. The Scotch farmer says, " Any-
thing to get the hay in " and by loosening a bit the
strict bands of social custom, the hay is harvested 3$
In the hay-harvest the law of natural selection holds;
partners are often arranged for weeks in advance; and,
trysts continue year after year. Old lovers meet, touch
hands in friendly scuffle for a fork, drink from the same,
jug, recline at noon and eat lunch in the shade of a,
friendly stack, and talk to heart's content, sweetening;
the labor of the long summer day.
Of course this joyousness of the haying-time is not
wholly monopolized by the Scotch. Have n't you seen,
the jolly haying parties in Southern Germany, France*
Switzerland and the Tyrol? How the bright costumes
of the men and the jaunty attire of the women gleam
in the glad sunshine!
But the practise of pairing is carried to a degree of
perfection in Scotland that I have not noticed else-
where. Surely it is a great economic scheme! It is like
that invention of a Connecticut man, which utilizes.
the ebb and flow of the ocean-tic^ t& tawn a gristmilU
And it seems queer that no one has ever attempted to
utilize the waste of dynamic force involved in the main-
tenance of the Company Sofa.
In Ayrshire, I have started out with a haying party of
twenty ten men and ten women at six o'clock in the
morning and worked until six at night. I never worked
so hard, nor did so much. All day long there was a fire
of jokes and jolly gibes, interspersed with song, while
beneath all ran a gentle hum of confidential inter-
change of thought. The man who owned the field was
there to direct our efforts and urge us on in well-doing
by merry raillery, threat, and joyous rivalry.
The point I make is this we did the work. Take heed,
ye Captains of Industry, and note this truth, that where
men and women work together under right influences,
much good is accomplished, and the work is pleasurable.
Of course there are vinegar-faced philosophers who say
that the Scotch custom of pairing young men and maid-
ens in the hayfield is not without its effect on esoterics,
also on vital statistics; and I 'm willing to admit there
may be danger in the scheme. But life is a dangerous
business anyway few indeed get out of it alive! S&
]URNS succeeded in his love-making and suc-
ceeded in poetry, but at everything else he
was a failure. He failed as a farmer, a father,
a friend, in society, as a husband, and in
business. <J From his twenty-third year his days were
passed in sinning and repenting.
Poetry and love-making should be carried on with
caution: they form a terrific tax on life's forces. Most
poets die young, not because the gods especially love
them, but because life is a bank-account, and to wipe
out your balance is to have your checks protested.
The excesses of youth are drafts payable at maturity.
Chatterton dead at eighteen, Keats at twenty-six,
Shelley at thirty-three, Byron at thirty-six, Poe at
forty, and Burns at thirty-seven, are the rule. When
drafts made by the men mentioned became due, there
was no balance to their credit and Charon beckoned*
<I Most life-insurance companies now ask the appli-
cant this question, " Do you write poetry to excess? "
Shakespeare, to be sure, clung to life until he was
fifty-three, but this seems to be the limit. Dickens and
Thackeray, their candles well burned out, also died
under sixty. Of course, I know that Browning, Tenny-
son, Morris and Bryant lived to a fair old age, but this
was on borrowed time, for in the early life of each
there was a hiatus of from ten to eighteen years, when
the men never wrote a line, nor touched a drop of
anything, bravely eschewing all honey from Hymettus.
Then the four men last named were all happily married,
and married life is favorable to longevity, but not to
poetry. As a rule only single men, or those unhappily
mated, make love and write poetry. Men happily
married make money, cultivate content, and evolve an
aldermanic front; but love and poetry are symptoms of
unrest. Thus is Emerson's proposition partially proven,
that in life all things are bought and must be paid for
with a price even success and happiness.
URNS once explained to Doctor Moore that
the first fine, careless rapture of his song was
awakened into being when he was sixteen
years old, by " a bonnie sweet sonsie lass "
whom we now know as ** Handsome NelL" Her other
name to us is vapor, and history is silent as to her life-
pilgrimage. Whether she lived to realize that she had
first given voice to one of the great singers of earth of
this we are also ignorant. She was one year younger than
Burns, and little more than a child when she and
Bobby lagged behind the troop of tired haymakers,
and walked home, hand in hand, in the gloaming. Here
is one of the stanzas addressed to " Handsome Nell ":
" She dresses all so clean and neat,
Both decent and genteel,
And then there 's something in her gait
Makes any dress look weel."
And how could Nell then ever guess why her cheeks
burned scarlet, and why she was so sorry when haying-
time was over? She was sweet, innocent, artless, and
their love was very natural, tender, innocent. It 's
a pity that all loves can not remain in just that idyllic,
milkmaid stage, where the girls and boys awaken in
the early morning with the birds, and hasten forth
barefoot across the dewy fields to find the cows. But
love never tarries, Love is progressive; it can not stand
still. I have heard of the " passiveness " of woman's
love, but the passive woman is only one who does not
love she merely consents to have affection lavished
upon her. When I hear of a passive woman, I always
think of the befuddled sailor who once saw one of those
dummy dress-frames, all duly clothed in flaming bom-
bazine (I think it was bombazine) in front of a cloth-
ing establishment. The sailor, mistaking the dummy
for a near and dear lady friend, embraced the wire
apparatus and imprinted a resounding smack on the
chaste plaster-of-Paris cheek. Meeting the sure-enough
lady shortly after, he upbraided her for her cold pas-
sivity on the occasion named.
A passive woman one who consents to be loved
should seek occupation among those worthy firms who
warrant a fit in ready-made gowns, or money refunded.
<ILove is progressive it hastens onward like the
brook hurrying to the sea. They say that love is blind:
love may be short-sighted, or inclined to strabismus,
or may see things out of their true proportion, mag-
nifying pleasant little ways into seraphic virtues, but
love is not really blind the bandage is never so tight
but that it can peep. The only kind of love that is really
blind and deaf is Platonic love. Platonic love has n't
the slightest idea where it is going, and so there are
surprises and shocks in store for it. The other kind,
with eyes wide open, is better. I know a man who
has tried both. Love is progressive. All things that
live should progress. To stand still is to retreat, and
to retreat is death. Love dies, of course. All things
die, or become something else. And often they become
something else by dying. Behold the eternal Paradox!
The love that evolves into a higher form is the better
kind. Nature is intent on evolution, yet of the myriads
of spores that cover earth, most of them are doomed
to death; and of the countless rays sent out by the
sun, the number that fall athwart this planet are in-
finitesimal. Edward Carpenter calls attention to the
fact that disappointed love that is, love that is ** lost "
often affects the individual for the highest good.
But the real fact is, nothing is ever lost. Love in its
essence is a spiritual emotion, and its office seems to
be an interchange of thought and feeling; but often
thwarted in its object, it becomes general, transforms
itself into sympathy, and embracing a world, goes out
to and blesses all mankind.
Very, very rare is the couple that has the sense and
poise to allow passion just enough mulberry-leaves, so
it will spin a beautiful silken thread, out of which a
Jacob's ladder can be constructed, reaching to the
Infinite. Most lovers in the end wear love to a fringe,
and there remains no ladder with angels ascending and
descending not even a dream of a ladder. Instead of
the silken ladder on which one can mount to Heaven,
there is usually a dark, dank road to Nowhere, over
which is thrown a package of letters and trinkets, all
fastened round with a white ribbon, tied in a lover's
knot. The many loves of Robert Burns all ended in a
black jumping-off place, and before he had reached high
noon, he tossed over the last bundle of white-ribboned
missives and tumbled in after them. The life of Burns
is a tragedy, through which are interspersed sparkling
scenes of gaiety, as if to retrieve the depth of bitterness
that would otherwise be unbearable. Go ask Mary
Morison, Highland Mary, Agnes McLehose, Betty
Alison, and Jean Armour!
HE poems of Robert Burns fall easily into f our
divisions 3& 53
First, those written while he was warmly
wooing the object of his affection.
Second, those written after he had won her*
Third, those written when he had failed to win her 3&
Fourth, those written when he felt it his duty to write,
and really had nothing to say.
The first-named were written because he could not
help it, and are, for the most part, rarely excellent.
They are joyous, rapturous, sprightly, dancing, and
filled with references to sky, clouds, trees, fruit, gram,
birds and flowers. Birds and flowers, by the way, are
peculiarly lovers' properties. The song and the plumage
of birds, and the color and perfume of flowers are aU
distinctly sex manifestations. Robert Burns sang his
songs just as the bird wings and sings, and for the same
reason. Sex holds first place in the thought of Nature;
and sex in the minds of men and women holds a much
larger place than most of us are willing to admit. All
religious emotion and all art are born of the sex instinct,
f Burns' poems of the second variety, written after
he had won her, are touched with religious emotion,
or filled with vain regret and deep remorse, as the
case may be, all owing to the quality and kind of suc-
cess achieved, and the influence of the Dog-Star.
Burns wrote several deeply religious poems. Now,
men are very seldom really religious and contrite,
except after an excess. Following a debauch a man
signs the pledge, vows chastity, writes fervently of
asceticism and the need of living in the spirit and not
in the senses. Good pictures show best on a dark back-
ground. Men talk most about things they do not possess.
<I " The Cotter's Saturday Night," perhaps the most
quoted of any of Burns' poems, is plainly the result of
a terrible tip to t' other side. Bobby had gone so far in
the direction of Venusburg that he resolved on getting
back, and living thereafter a staid and proper life S3
In order to reform you must have an ideal, and the
ideal of Burns, on the occasion of having exhausted
all capacity for sin, is embodied in the " Saturday
Night/' It is all a beautiful dream. The real Scottish
cotter is quite another kind of person. The religion of
the live cotter is well seasoned with fear, malevolence
and absurd dogmatism. The amount of love, patience,
excellence and priggishness shown in " The Cotter's
Saturday Night " never existed, except in a poet's
imagination. In stanza Number Ten of that particular
poem is a bit of unconscious autobiography that might
as well ha* been omitted; but in letting it stand, Burns
was loyal to the thought that surged through his brain.
<I People who are not scientific in their speech often
spqfrk of the birds as being happy. My opinion is that
birds are not any more happy than men probably not
as much so. Many birds, like the English sparrow and
the blue jay, quarrel all day long. Come to think of it, I
believe that man is happier than the birds. He has a
sense of remorse, and this suggests reformation, and
from the idea of reformation comes the picturing of
an ideal. This exercise of the imagination is pleasure,
for indeed there is a certain satisfaction in every form
of exercise of the faculties. There is a certain pleasure
in pain: for pain is never all pain. And sin surely is not
wholly bad, if through it we pass into a higher life
the life of the spirit.
Anything is better than the Dead Sea of neutral noth-
ingness, wherein a man merely avoids sin by doing
nothing and being nothing. The stirring of the imagi-
nation by sorrow for sin, sometimes causes the soul
to wing a far-reaching upward flight.
Asceticism is often only a form of sensuality: the man
finds satisfaction in overcoming the flesh. And wher-
ever you find asceticism you find potential passion a
smoldering volcano held in check by a devotion to
duty; and a gratification is oft found in fidelity.
The moral and religious poems of Burns were written
in a desire to work off a fit of depression, and make
amends for folly. They are sincere and often very
excellent. Great preachers have often been great sinners,
and the sermons that have moved men most are often
a direct recoil from sin on the part of the preacher.
Remorse finds play in preaching repentance. When a man
talks much about a virtue, be sure that he is clutching
for it. Temperance fanatics are men with a taste for
strong drink, trying hard to keep sober. The moral
and religious poems of Robert Burns are not equal to
his love-songs. The love-songs are free, natural, un-
trammeled and unrestrained; while his religious poems
have a vein of rotten warp running through them in
the way of affectation and pretense. From this I infer
that sin is natural, and remorse partially so. In Burns*
moral poems the author tries to win back the favor of
respectable people, which he had forfeited. In them
there is a violence of direction; and all violence of
direction all endeavors to please and placate certain
people is fatal to an artist. You must work to please
Work to please yourself and you develop and strengthen
the artistic conscience. Cling to that and it shall be
your mentor in times of doubt: you need no other.
There are writers who would scorn to write a muddy
line, and would hate themselves for a year and a day
should they dilute their honest thought with the plat-
itudes of the fear-ridden. Be yourself and speak your
mind today, though it contradict ail you have said
before. And above all, in art, work to please yourself
that Other Self that stands over and behind you, look-
ing over your shoulder, watching your every act, word
and deed knowing your every thought. Michelangelo
would not paint a picture on order. " I have a critic
who is more exacting than you," said Meissonier *' it
is my Other Self/'
Rosa Bonheur painted pictures just to please her
Other Self, and never gave a thought to any one
else, nor wanted to think of any one else, and having
painted to please herself, she made her appeal to
the great Common Heart of humanity the tender,
the noble, the receptive, the earnest, the sympathetic,
the lovable. That is why Rosa Bonheur stands first
among women artists of all time: she worked to please
her Other Self.
That is the reason Rembrandt, who lived at the saioae
time Shakespeare lived, is today without a rival in
portraiture. He had the courage to make an enemy.
When at work he never thought of any one but his
Other Self, and so he infused soul into every canvas.
The limpid eyes look down into yours from the walls
and tell of love, pity, earnestness and deep sincerity*
Man, like Deity, creates in his own image, and when
fee portrays some one else, he pictures himself, too
this provided his work is Art. If it is but an imitation
of something seen somewhere, or done by some one
else, to please a patron with money, no breath of life
has been breathed into its nostrils, and it is nothing,
save possibly dead perfection no more.
Is it easy to please your Other Self? Try it for a day.
Begin tomorrow morning and say: *' This day I will
live as becomes a man. I will be filled with good-cheer
and courage. I will do what is right; 1 will work for
the highest; I will put soul into every hand-grasp*
every smile, every expression into all my work. I will
live to satisfy my Other Self/*
Do you think it is easy? Try it for a day.
Robert Burns wrote some deathless lines lines written
out of the freshness of his heart, simply to please him-
self, with no furtive eye on Dumfries, Edinburgh, the
Kirk, or the Unco Guid of Ayrshire; and these are the
lines that have given him his place in the world of letters.
*S The other day I was made glad by finding that John
Burroughs, Poet and Prophet, says that the male thrush
sings to please himself, out of pure delight; and pleasing
himself, he pleases his mate. *' The female," says Bur-
roughs, " is always pleased with a male that is pleased
The various controversial poems (granting for argu-
ment's sake that controversy is poetic) were written
when Burns was smarting under the sense of defeat.
These show a sharp insight into the heart of things, and
a lively wit, but are not sufficient foundation on which
to build a reputation. Ali Baba can do as well. Consider-
ing the fact that twice as many people make pilgrimages
to the grave of Burns as visit the dust of Shakespeare,
and that his poems are on the shelves of every library,
his name now needs no defense. The ores are very
seldom found pure, and if even the work of Deity is
composite, why should we be surprised that man, His
creature, should express himself in a varying scale of
HERE was nothing of Jack Falstaff about
Francis Schlatter, whose whitened bones
were found amid the alkali dust of the desert,
a few years ago dead in an endeavor to do
without meat and drink for forty days.
Schlatter purported, and believed, that he was the
reincarnation of the Messiah. Letters were sent to him,
addressed simply, " Jesus Christ, Denver, Colorado/*
and he walked up to the General-Delivery window and
asked for them with a confidence, we are told, that
relieved the postmaster of a grave responsibility.
Schlatter was no mere ordinary pretender, working on
the superstitions of shallow-pated people. He lived up
to his belief took no money, avoided notoriety when
he could; and the proof of his sincerity lies in the fact
that he died a victim to it.
Herbert Spencer has said all about the Messianic
Instinct that there is to say, save this the Messianic
Instinct first had its germ in the heart of a woman.
Every woman dreams of the coming of the Ideal Man
the man who will give her protection, even to giving
up his life for her, and vouchsafe peace to her soul
I am told by a noted Bishop of the Catholic Church
that many women who become nuns are prompted to
take their vows solely through the occasion of an
unrequited love. They become the bride of the Church
and find their highest joy in following the wiU of Christ.
He is their only Spouse and Master.
The terms of endearment one hears at prayer-meetings,
" Blessed Jesus/' " Dear Jesus/* * c Living Jesus/*
" Elder Brother/' " Patient, gentle Jesus/' etc., were
first used by women in an ecstasy of religious trans-
port. And the thought of Jesus as a loving, " personal
Savior/' would die from the face of the earth did not
women keep it alive. The religious nature and the
sex nature are closely akin: no psychologist can tell
where the one ends and the other begins.
There may be wooden women in the world, and of
these I will not speak, but every strong, pulsing, feel-
ing, thinking woman goes through life, seeking the
Ideal Man. Whether she is married or single, rich or
poor, old or young, every new man she meets is inter-
esting to her, because she feels in some mysterious way
that possibly he is the One.
Of course, I know that every good man, too, seeks the
Ideal Woman but that deserves another chapter S&
The only woman in whose heart there is not the live,
warm, Messianic Instinct is the wooden woman, and
the one who believes she has already found him. But
this latter is holding an illusion that soon vanishes
That pale, low-voiced, gentle and insane man, Francis
Schlatter, was followed at times by troops of women.
These women believed in him and loved him in dif-
ferent ways, of course, and with passion varying accord-
ing to temperament and the domestic environment
already existing. To love deeply is a matter of propin-
quity and opportunity.
One woman, whom " The Healer " had cured of a
lingering disease, loved this man with a wild, mad,
absorbing passion. Chance gave her the opportunity. He
came to her house, cold, hungry, homeless, sick. She
fed him, warmed him, looked into his liquid eyes, sat
at his feet and listened to his voice. She loved him
and partook of his every mental delusion.
This woman now waits and watches in her mountain
home for his return. She knows the coyotes and buz-
zards picked the scant flesh from his starved frame,
but she says: " He promised he would come back to
me, and he will. I am waiting for him here/*
This woman writes me long letters from her solitude,
telling me of her hopes and plans. Just why all the
cranks in the United States should write me letters, I
do not know, but they do perhaps there is a sort o*
fellow-feeling. This woman may write letters to others,
just as she does to me. Of this I do not know, but
surely I would not thus make public the heart-tragedy
told me in a private letter, were it not that the woman
herself has printed a pamphlet, letting forth her faith
and veiling only those things into which it is not our
right to pry.
This Mary Magdalene believes her lover was the
Chosen Son of God, and that the Father will reclothe
the Son in a new garment of flesh and send him back
to his beloved. So she watches and waits, and dresses
herself to receive him, and at night places a lighted
lantern in the window to guide the way.
She watches and waits.
Other women wait for footsteps that will never come,
and listen for a voice that will never be heard. All
round the world there is a sisterhood of such. Some,
being wise, lose themselves in loving service to others
in useful work. But this woman, out in the wilds of
New Mexico, hugs her sorrow to her heart, and feeds
her passion by recounting it, and watches away the
leaden hours, crying aloud to all who will listen: " He
is not dead he is not dead! he will come back to me!
He promised it he will come back to me! This long,
dreary waiting is only a test of my loyalty and Jove!
I will be patient, for he will come back to me! He will
come back to me! "
This world would be a sorry place if most men con-
ducted their lives on the Robert Burns plan. Burns
was affectionate, tender, generous and kind; but he
was not wise. He never saw the future, nor did he
know that life is a sequence, and that if you do this, it
is pretty sure to lead to that. His loves were largely of
Excess was a part of his wayward, undisciplined nature;
and that constant tendency to put an enemy in his
mouth to steal away his brains, bound him at last,
hand and foot. His old age could never have been
frosty, but kindly it would have been babbling, irrita-
ble, senile, sickening. Death was kind and reaped him
young. Sex was the rock on which Robert Burns split.
He seemed to regard pleasure-seeking as the prime end
of life, and in this he was not so very far removed from
the prevalent " civilized " society notion of marriage.
But it is a phantasmal idea, and makes a mock of
marriage, serving the satirist his excuse.
To a great degree the race is yet barbaric, and as a
people we fail utterly to touch the hem of the garment
of Divinity. We have been mired in the superstition
that sex is unclean, and therefore honesty and free
expression in love matters have been tabued.
But the day will yet dawn when we will see that it
takes two to generate thought; that there is the male
man and the female man, and only where these two
walk together hand in hand is there a perfect sanity
and a perfect physical, moral and spiritual health.
We reach infinity through the love of one, and loving
this one, we are in love with all. And this condition
of mutual sympathy, trust, reverence, forbearance and
gentleness that can exist between a man and a woman,
gives the only hint of Heaven that mortals ever know*
From the love of man for woman we guess the love of
God, just as the scientist from a single bone constructs
the skeleton aye ! and then clothes it with a complete
garment, ^f In their love-affairs women are seldom wise,
or men just. How should we expect them to be when but
yesterday woman was a chattel and man a slave-
owner ? Woman won by diplomacy that is to say, by
trickery and untruth, and man had his way through
force, and neither is quite willing to disarm. An amal-
gamated personality is the rare exception, because
neither Church, State nor Society yet fully recognizes
the fact that spiritual comradeship and the marriage of
the mind constitute the only Divine mating. Doctor
Blacklock once said that Robert Burns had eyes like
the Christ* Women who looked into those wide-open,
generous orbs lost their hearts in the liquid depths 33
In the natures of Robert Burns and Francis Schlatter
there was little in common; but their experiences were
alike in this: they were beloved by women. Behind
him Burns left a train of weeping women a trail of
broken hearts. And I can never think of him except as
a mere youth '* Bobby Burns " one who never came
into man's estate. In all his love-making he never
seemed really to benefit any woman, nor did he avail
himself of the many mental and spiritual excellencies
of woman's nature, absorbing them into his own. He
only played a devil's tattoo upon her emotions.
If Burns knew anything of the beauty and inspiration
of a high and holy friendship between a thinking man
and a thinking woman, with mutual aims, ideals and
ambitions, he never disclosed it. The love of a man for
a maid, or a maid for a man, can never last, unless
these two mutually love a third something. Then, as
they are traveling the same way, they may move for-
ward hand in hand, mutually sustained. The marriage
of the mind is the only compact that endures. I love
you because you love the things that I love. That man
alone is great who utilizes the blessings that God pro-
vides; and of these blessings no gift equals the gentle,
trusting companionship of a good woman.
So, having written thus far, I find that already I have
reached the limit of my allotted space.
In closing, it may not be amiss for me to state that
Robert Burns was an Irish poet whose parents happened
to be Scotch. He was born in Ayrshire in Seventeen
Hundred Fifty-nine. He died in Seventeen Hundred
Ninety-six, and was buried at Dumfries by the " gentle-
man volunteers," in spite of his last solemn words
" Don't let the Awkward Squad fire over my grave! "
f His mother survived him thirty-eight years, passing
out in Eighteen Hundred Thirty-four. Burns left four
sons, each of whom was often pointed out as the son of
his father but none of them was.
This is all I think of, at present, concerning Robert
Burns 3& For further facts I must refer the Gentle
Reader to the " Encyclopedia Britannica," a compila-
tion that I cheerfully recommend, it having been
vouched for to me by a dear friend, a clergyman of
East Aurora, who, the past year, perused the entire
work, from A to Z, reading five hours a day: and there-
fore is competent to speak.
Thus witk the year
Seasons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me; from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with a universal blank
Of Nature's works, to me expunged and rased-
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, Celestial Light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate; there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.
Paradise Lo Book III
HAKESPEARE and Milton lived at
the same time, though the difference
in their ages was such that we may
not speak of them as contempo-
raries. John Milton was eight years
old when William Shakespeare died.
The Miltons lived in Bread Street,
and out of the back garret-window
house could catch a glimpse of the Globe
Theater 53 53
The father of John Milton might have known Shake-
speare might have dined with him at the "Mermaid,"
played skittles with him on Hampstead Heath, fished
with him from the same boat in the river at Richmond ;
and then John Milton, the lawyer, might have discreetly
schemed for passes to the " Globe " and gone with his
boy John, Junior, to see " As You Like It " played, with
the Master himself in the role of old Adam.
Bread Street was just off Cheapside, where the Mermaid
Tavern stood, and where Beaumont, Fletcher, Ben
Jonson and other roysterers often lingered and made
the midnight echo with their mirth. In all probability,
John Milton, Senior, father of John Milton, Junior,
knew Shakespeare well. But the Miltons owned their
home; were rich, influential, eminently respectable;
attended Saint Giles* Church, and really did n't care
to cultivate the society of play-actors who kept bad
hours, slept in the theater, and had meal-tickets at half
a dozen taverns.
There were six children born into the Milton family,
three of whom died in infancy. Of the survivors, the
eldest was Anne, the second John, the third Christopher.
<S Anne was strong, robust and hearty; John was slender,
pale, with dreamy, dark gray eyes and a head too big
for his body; Christopher was so-so. And, in passing,
it is well to explain, once for all, that Christopher
made his way straight to the front in life, taking up
his father's business and being appointed a Court
Officer. Thence he was promoted to the Woolsack,
became rich, cultivated a double chin, was knighted,
and passed out full of honors. The chief worriment
and source of shame in the life of Sir Christopher Milton
came from the unseemly conduct of his brother John,
who was much given to producing political and theo-
logical pamphlets. And once in desperation Sir Christo-
pher Milton requested John Milton to change his
family name, that the tribe of Milton might be saved
the disgrace of having in it "a traducer of the State,
an enemy of the King, and a falsifier of Truth/' Sir
Christopher Milton was an excellent and worthy man,
and I must apologize for not giving him more attention
at this time; but lack of space forbids.
Sickly boys who are wise beyond their years are ever
the pets of big sisters, and the object of loving, jealous,
zealous care on the part of their mothers. John Milton
talked like an oracle while yet a child, and one biog-
rapher records that even as a babe he sometimes
mildly reproved his parents for levity.
He was a precocious child, and have we not been told
that precocity does not fulfill its promises? But this
boy was an exception. He was incarnated into a family
that prized music, poetry, philosophy, and yet held
fast to the Christian faith. His father set psalms to
music, his sister wrote madrigals, and his mother played
sweet strains on a harp to waken him at morningtide.
The entire household united in a devotion to poetry
and art. Possibly this atmosphere of high thinking was
too rarefied for real comfort the gravity of the situa-
tion being sustained only by a stern effort.
But no matter father, mother and sister joined hands
to make the pale, handsome boy a prodigy of learning:
one that would surprise the world and leave his impress
on the time.
And they succeeded.
Of the three Milton children that passed away in child-
hood, I can not but think that they succumbed to over-
training, being crammed quite after the German custom
of stuffing geese so as to produce that delicious dis-
eased tidbit known to gourmets as pate de foies gras*
John Milton stood the cramming process like a true
hero. His parents set him apart for the Church there-
fore he must be learned in books, familiar with languages,
versed in theories. They desired that he should have
knowledge, which they did not know is quite a different
thing from wisdom.
So the boy had a private tutor in Greek and Latin at
nine years of age, and even then began to write verse.
At ten years of age his father had the lad's portrait
painted by that rare and thrifty Dutchman, Cornelius
Jansen. We have this picture now, and it reveals the
pale, grave, winsome face with the flowing curls that
we so easily recognize.
No expense or pains were spared in the boy's educa-
tion. The time was divided up for him as the hours are
for a soldier. One tutor after another took him in hand
during the day; but the change of study and a glad
respite of an hour in the morning and the same in the
afternoon, for music, bore him up.
He was the pride of his parents, the delight of his
tutors 33 &
Three years were spent at Saint Paul's School; then he
was sent to Cambridge, From there he wrote to his
mother, " I am penetrating into the inmost recesses
of the Muses; climbing high Olympus, visiting the
green pastures of Parnassus, and drinking deep from
This is terrible language for a child of fourteen. A boy
who should talk like that now would be regarded with
anxious concern by his loving parents. The present
age is incredulous of the Infant Phenomenon. And no
fond parent must for a moment imagine that by follow-
ing the system laid out for the education of John Milton
can a John Milton be produced. The Miltonian cur-
riculum, if used today, would be sufficient ground for
action on the part of the Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Children.
But John Milton, though but a weak-eyed boy with a
chronic headache, had a deal of whipcord fiber in his
make-up. He stood the test and grubbed at his books
every night until the clock tolled twelve. He was born
at a peculiar time, being a child of the Reformation
married to the Renaissance. The toughness and grim-
ness of Calvin were united in him with the tenderness
of Erasmus. From out of the Universal Energy, of
which we are particles, he had called into his being
qualities so diverse that they seemed never to have been
before or since united in one person.
He remained at Cambridge seven years. The beauty
of his countenance had increased so that he was as
one set apart. His finely chiseled features, framed in
their flowing curls, challenged the admiration of every
person he met. A writer of the time described him as
" a grave and sober person, but one not wholly ignorant
of his own parts."
There is a sly touch in this sentence that sheds light
upon " The Lady of Christ's." John Milton was a bit
of a poseur, as Schopenhauer declares all great men
Eire and ever have been. With the masterly mind goes
a touch of the fakir or charlatan. Milton knew his
power he gloried in this bright blade of the intellect.
He was handsome and he knew it. And yet we will
not cavil at his velvet coats, or laces, or the golden
chain that adorned his slender, shapely person. These
things were only the transient, springtime adornments
that passion puts forth.
And yet I see that one writer mentions the chaste and
ascetic quality of Milton's early life as proof of a cold
and measured nature. Seemingly the writer does not
know that intense feeling often finds a gratification in
asceticism, and that vows of chastity are proof of pas-
sion. There are many ways of working off one's surplus
energy Milton was married to his work. He traversed
the vast fields of Classic Literature, read in the original
from Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, French, Spanish, Latin and
Italian. He delved into abstruse mathematics, studied
music as a science, and labored at theology. In fact, hq
came to know so much of all religions that he had faith
in none. He seemed to view religion in the cold, calcu-
lating light of a syllogistic problem not as a warm,
pulsing motive in life. His real religion was music, a fact
he once frankly acknowledged.
On the pinions of music he was carried out and away
beyond the boundaries of time and space, and there
he found that rest for his soul, without which he would
have sunk to earth and been covered by the kindly,
drifting leaves of oblivion.
For some, the secrets of music, the wonder of love,
and the misty, undefined prayers of the soul constitute
true religion. When you place a creed in a crucible
and afterward study the particles on a slide encased
in balsam, you are apt to get a residuum or something
a something that does not satisfy the heart.
Milton got well acquainted with theology. It was inter-
esting, but not what he had supposed. He came to
regard the Church as a useful part of the Government
divine, of course, as all good things are divine. But
to become a priest and play a part he would not do it*
He was honest stubbornly honest.
Seven years he had been at Cambridge, and now that
he was just ready to step into a * c living " -right in the
line of promotion of which his beauty and intellect
tokened a sure presage he balked.
It was a great blow to his parents. His mother pleaded;
his father threatened; but they soon perceived that
this son they had brought forth had a will stronger
than theirs. Their fond dreams of his preferment the
handsome face of their boy above an oaken pulpit, with
thousands feeding on his words, the public honors,
and all that faded away into tears and misty nothing-
ness. But parenthood is doomed to disappointment
it does not endure long enough to see the end. Youth
is so headstrong and wilful: it will not learn from the
experience of others.
And all these years of preparation and expense! Better
had he died and been laid to rest with the three now in
Before Milton had served his seven years* apprentice-
ship at Cambridge, his parents moved to the village
of Horton twenty miles out of London, Windsor way.
<I The village of Horton has not changed much with the
years, and a tramp across the fields from Eton by way
of Burnham Beeches and Stoke Pogis, where Gray
wrote " The Elegy," is quite worth while. It is a land
of lazy woods, and winding streams and hedgerows
melodious with birds. One treads on storied ground,
and if you wish you can recline beneath gnarled old
oaks where Milton mused and scribbled, and wrote the
first draft of " L' Allegro " and " II Penseroso."
Milton loitered here at Horton for six years, and in
that time produced just six poems.
He was thirty-two years of age, and had never earned
a sixpence. But what booted it! His father and mother's
home was his: they gladly supplied his every want;
and his mother, especially, was ever his kindly critic
and most intimate friend. His days were spent in study,
dreams, lonely walks across green fields, and home-
comings when, with his mother's hand in his, he
would talk or recite to her in order to clarify the
thought that pressed upon him. Very calm, very peace-
ful and very beautiful were those days. " The pensive
attitude of mind brings the best result not the active/'
he used to say. It was then he wrote to his old friend,
Diodati: *' You asked what I am about what I am
thinking of? Why, with God's help, I am thinking of
immortality. Forgive the word, it is for your ear alone
I am pluming my wings for flight/*
The good mother had misty, prophetic visions of what
this flight might be, and had ceased to counsel her son
against the sin of idleness. But she did not live to see
her prophecies confirmed, for in this time of peace and
love, when the vibrant air was filled with hope, she
Long years after, John Milton exclaimed, " Oh! Why
could she not have lived to know! " And the poignant
grief of this son, then a man in years (with his thirtieth
birthday well behind), turned on the thought that he
had disappointed Her the mother who had loved him
ILTON'S woes began with his marriage they
have given rise to nearly as much discussion
as his poetry. In his " Defensio Secunda," he
tells, with a touch of pride, of the absolute
innocency that continued until his thirty-fifth year.
When we consider how his combined innocence and
ignorance plunged him into a sudden marriage with a
bit of pink-and-white protoplasm, aged seventeen, we
can not but regret that he had not devoted a little of
his valuable time to a study of femininity. And in
some way we think of Thackeray, when he was being
shown the marvelous works of a certain amateur
artist. " Look at that! look at that! " cried the zealous
guide, " and he never had a lesson in art in his life! " S&
Thackeray adjusted his glasses, looked at the picture
carefully, sighed and said, "What a pity he did n't have
just a little good instruction! "
Milton the student, versed in abstractions and full of
learned lore, went up the Thames seeking a little
needed rest. Five miles from Oxford lived an ebb-tide
aristocratic family by the name of Powell. Milton had
long known this family, and, it seems, decided to tarry
with them a day or so. Just why he sought their com-
pany no one ever knew, and Milton was too proud to
tell. The brown thrush, rival of the lark and mocking-
bird, seldom seeks the society of the blue jay. But it
did this time. The Powells were a roaring, riotous,
roystering, fox-hunting, genteel, but reduced family,
on the eve of bankruptcy, with marriageable daughters.
CfThe executive functions of love-making are best
carried on by shallow people; so mediocre women
often show rare skill in courtship, and sometimes suc-
ceed in bagging big game. But surely Mary Powell
had no conception of the greatness of Milton's intellect
she only knew that he was handsome, and her parents
said he was rich,
There was feasting and mirth when Milton arrived
back in town accompanied by his bride and various of
her kinsmen. In all marriage festivals there is some-
thing pathetically absurd, and I never see a sidewalk
awning spread without thinking of the one erected for
John Milton and Mary Powell, who were led through
it by an Erebus that was not only blind, but stone-deaf.
<I John Milton was an ascetic, and lived in a realm of
reverie and dreams; his wife had a strong bias toward
the voluptuous, reveling in a world of sense, and
demanding attention as her right. Milton began diving
into his theories and books, and forgot the poor child
who had no abstract world into which to withdraw.
Suddenly bereft of the gay companionship that her
father's house supplied, she felt herself aggrieved,
alone; and tears of vexation and homesickness began
to stream down her pretty cheeks.
When summoned into her husband's presence she had
nothing to say, and Milton, the theorist, discovered
that what he had mistaken for the natural reticence
and bashfulness of maidenhood was mere inanity and
lack of ideas. But the loneliness of the poor country
girl, shut up in a student's den, is a deal more touching
than the scholar's wail about " the silent and insensate "
wife. The girl was being deprived of the rollicking
freedom to which she had been used, but the great
man was waking the echoes with his wail for a com-
panionship he had never known.
Yet the girl was shrewd. All women are shrewd, I am
told, and some are wise and some are not; and many
women there be who consider finesse an improvement
on frankness. At the end of a month, Milton's wife
contrived to have her parents send for her to return
home on a visit that was to last only until come
Michaelmas. But Michaelmas arrived and the young
bride refused to return, sending back saucy answers
to the great author of " II Penseroso."
In the meantime Milton wrote pamphlets urging that
divorce should be granted on the grounds of incom-
patibility, and pronouncing as inhuman the laws that
gave freedom from marital woes on no less ignoble
grounds than that a man should violate his honor 35
There is pretty good evidence that a part of Milton's
argument on the subject of divorce was written out
while his wife was under his roof. This reveals a slight
lack of delicacy as well as the author's habit to make
copy out of his private griefs; but it must be granted
that Milton goes to the very bottom of the subject,
even to stating the fact that those happily married
have neither pity nor patience with those mismatecL
" If you want sympathy," he says, " you must go to
those who are regarded as not respectable." Any man
who writes on philosophy can find his every cue in
Plato, and he who discusses divorce from a radical
standpoint can find himself anticipated by Milton in
the Seventeenth Century. Every view is taken, even
down to the suggestion of a probationary marriage,
which Milton thought might come about when civi-
lization had ceased to crawl and begun to walk*
One seeks in vain to learn if the unhappy wife of
Milton ever read her husband's bitter tracts. It is
probable she never did, and would not have compre-
hended their import if she had ; and it is still more likely
that she never came to realize that she was wedded
to the greatest man of the age. A truce was patched
up, on the bankruptcy of her father, and she came back
penitent, and was taken into favor. Not only did she
come back, but she brought her family; and the raven-
ous Royalists consumed the substance of the spiritual
and ascetic Puritan.
Had Milton then died, it is probable that the gladsome
widow would have been consoled and married again
very shortly, just as did the widows of Van Dyck and
Rubens not knowing that to have been the wife of a
king was honor enough for one woman.
But after fifteen years of domestic ** neglect/* during
which she doubtless benefited her husband by stirring
in him a noble discontent, she passed from earth; and
it was left for John Milton to repeat twice more his
marital venture, with a similar result. And in this, Fate
sends back a fact that leers like Mephistopheles, by
way of answer to Milton's pamphlets on divorce: Why
should the State grant a divorce, when great men refuse
to learn by experience, and given the opportunity,
only repeat the blunders they have already made? S&
"jOD in His goodness has in certain instances
sent great men angels of light for assistants
mates who could comprehend and sympathize
with their ideals. But it is expecting too much
to suppose that Nature can look out for such a trifle as
that the right man should marry the right woman.
Nature possibly never considered a time-contract, and
she is a careless jade, anyway. She moves blindly along
with never a thought for the individual.
Audubon the naturalist records that one-third of all
birds hatched tumble out of the nest before they can
fly, and once on the ground the parent birds are unable
either to warm, feed or protect them.
Read the lives of the Great Men who have lived during
the past three thousand years, and listen closely, and
you will hear the wild wail of neglected and unappre-
ciated wives. A woman can forgive a beating, but to be
forgotten never. She hates, by instinct, an austere and
self-contained character. Dignity and pride repel her;
preoccupation keeps her aloof; concentration on an idea
The wife of Tolstoy seeking to have her husband
adjudged insane is not a rare instance in the lives of
thinkers. To think thoughts that are different from the
thoughts one's neighbors think is surely good reason
why the man should be looked after. Recently we
have had evidence that the wife of Victor Hugo regarded
the author of " Les Miserables " with suspicion, and at
one time actually made preparations to let him enjoy
his exile alone she would go back to Paris and enjoy life
as every one should. At Guernsey there was no society!
<I When Isaac Newton called upon his ladylove and in
a fit of abstraction, looking about for a utensil to push
the tobacco down in his pipe, chanced upon the lady's
little finger, the law of gravitation was abrogated at
once, and Newton and his pipe were sent, like nebulae
whirling into space.
When the Great Inventor, absorbed in a problem as to
Electricity (that thing which to us is only a name and
of which we know nothing), forgets home, wife, child,
supper; and midnight finds him in his laboratory,
where he has been since sunrise just imagine, if you
please, the shrill greeting that is in cold storage for
him when he stumbles home, haggard and worn, at
dawn. How can he explain why he did this thing and
answer the questions as to who was there, and what
good it all did anyway!
Thought is a torture, and requires such a concentra-
tion of energy that there is nothing left for the soft
courtesies of marriage. The day is fleeting, and the
night cometh when no man can work. The hot impulse
to grasp and materialize the dream ere it fades, is
strong upon the man.
Of course he is selfish he sacrifices everything, as
Palissy did when fuel was short and the clay just at
the turning-point. Yes, the artist is selfish: he sacrifices
his wife and society, and himself, too, to get the work
done. Four-o'clocks, mealtime, bedtime, and all the
household system as to pink teas, calls and etiquette,
stand for naught. And down the corridors of Time comes
to us the shrill wail of neglected wives, and the crash of
broken hearts echoes like the sound of a painter falling
through a skylight. All this is the price of achievement.
AKING a little look backward into Milton's
life, we find that until his thirty-third year
he had not tasted of practical life at all. About
that time his father, in a sort of desperation,
packed him off to the Continent, in charge of a trusty
.attendant, who acted in the dual capacity of servant
r and friend. The letters he carried to influential men in
Paris, Florence, Venice and Rome secured him the
Speaker's eye, and his beauty and learning did the rest.
His march was that of a conquering hero. In Paris he
surprised the savants by addressing them in their own
tongue, and reciting from their chief writers. This was
repeated in Italy; and at Florence, as a sort of half-
challenge for permission to occupy the highest seat,
he was invited to read from his own compositions,
which he did with such grace and power that thereafter
all doors flew open at his touch.
Returning to England after an absence of fifteen
months, he found his father's household broken up,
and through bad investments, the family fortune sadly
depleted. But travel had added cubits to his stature:
the mixture with men had put him into possession of
his own, and he now felt well able to cope with the
world. He secured modest lodgings in Saint Bride's
Churchyard, and set to work to make a living and a
name by authorship. His head teemed with subjects
for poems, but cash advances were not forthcoming
from publishers, and, to bridge over, he tried tutoring*
<I It was at this time that " Paradise Lost/* the one
matchless epic of English literature, was conceived.
Rough jottings were made as to divisions and heads,
and a few stanzas were written of the immortal poem
that was not to be completed for a score of years.
The first volume of Milton's poems was issued in Six-
teen Hundred Forty-five, when he was thirty-seven
years of age. But before this he was known as the
author of some pamphlets which had made political
London reel. The writer was at once seen to be a man of
remarkable learning and marvelous intellect, and the
work secured Milton a few friends and divers enemies 3$
From a man of leisure Milton had suddenly become a
worker, whose every daylight hour was crammed with
duties. His skill as a teacher brought him all the pupils
he cared for, and he moved into better quarters in
Aldersgate. He was immersed in his work, was making
valuable acquaintances among literary people, was
revered by his pupils, and the happiness was his of
knowing that he was influential and independent. A
fine intoxication comes to every brain-worker when
the world acknowledges with tangible remittances
that the product of his mind has a value on the Rialto.
Such was Milton's joy in Sixteen Hundred Forty-three.
q The " Comus," " II Penseroso," " L* Allegro " and
" Lycidas " had established his place as a poet; and
the power of his pen had been proven in sundry religious
and political controversies.
In his household were two sons of his sister and several
other pupils who had sought his tutorship. He was
contented in his work, pleased and happy with the
young friends who sat at his board, and in an hour or
two snatched each day from toil, for music and reverie.
EIZE upon the moments as they fly, John
Milton, and hug them to your heart! Those
were days of gold when your mother was your
patient listener and friend. Her love envel-
oped you as an aura; and her voice, soft and low,
upheld you when courage faltered. But these, too, are
glorious days days full of work, and health, and hope,
and high endeavor. But these days of peace and freedom
are the last you shall ever know. Even now they flee as
a shadow and fade into mist! Gross stupidity, silent
and insensate, sits waiting for you at the door; calumny
is near; taunting hate comes riding feist!
The sympathy for which you yearn shall be yours
only in dreams, and you shall be cheated of all the
tenderness for which your heart prays. The love and
gentleness which you associate with your mother, you
ascribe in innocence and ignorance to all women; but
Fate shall undeceive you, O John Milton, and make
mock of all your high ideals. You dote on liberty, but
liberty is not for you. You shall see the funeral of the
Republic; the defamation of your honor; the proscrip-
tion of all the sacred things you prize. Your compan-
ions shall not be of your own choosing, but shall be
those who neither know nor value the sweet, subtle
mintage of the mind. Around you mad riot shall surge,
a hatred for liberty shall prevail an enthusiasm for
slavery. The glorious leaders of your Puritan faith
shall be condemned and executed, hanged, cut down
from the gallows alive, and quartered amid the hoarse
insults of the people they sought to serve; and you
yourself shall be hunted like a wild beast. You shall
see the prisons filled to overflowing with men and
women whose only crime was their love for truth. And
a libertine shall sit on the throne of the England that
you love. These things you shall see with those mild,
dark eyes, and then night, eternal night, shall settle
down upon you; and for those idle orbs no day shall
dawn nor starry night appear, nor face of man nor
child shall be reflected there. Your sightlessness shall
give those who owe you gratitude and love, opportunity
to filch your gold; and, lastly, fire shall rob you of your
books, and well-nigh all your treasures.
Like another Lear, your daughters shall neither esteem
nor respect you, and the lines you dictate shall be to
them but the idle vaporings of a mind diseased. Your
acute ears shall hear these daughters express the
wish that you were dead; and then in your blindness
you will give yourself into the keeping of a woman as
dull, inane and unfeeling as the foolish child you
first chose as wife. But with it all your obstinacy
shall constitute your power; and that beauty which
was yours in youth shall be with you to the last. You
shall feel all the torments of the damned and become
inured to the scorching flames of hell! But, as recom-
pense, the splendors of the Celestial Kingdom shall
open upon your inward vision, and your soul shall
behold that which the eyes of earth have lost. Some-
thing great and proud shall go out from your presence
to all the discerning ones who shall approach you; and
your end shall be like the setting of the sun, bright,
calm, poised and resplendent.
LETTER TO CHESTERFIELD
$ # * Seven years, my Lord, have now passed since I
waited in your outward rooms and was repulsed from
your door; during which time I have been pushing on
my work through difficulties of which it is useless to
complain, and have brought it at last to the verge of
publication without one act of assistance, one word of
encouragement, or one smile of favor. Such treatment
I did not expect, for I never had a patron before.
The shepherd in Vergil grew at last acquainted with
Love, and found him a native of the rocks.
Is not a patron, my Lord, one who looks with unconcern
on a man struggling for life in the water, and when he
has reached the ground encumbers him with help? The
notice which you have been pleased to take of my
labors, had it been early, had been kind; but it has been
delayed till I am indifferent, and can not enjoy it; till I
am a solitary, and can not impart it; till I am known,
and do not want it. I hope it is no very cynical asperity
not to confess obligations where no benefit has been
received, or to be unwilling that the public should
consider me as owing that to a patron which Providence
has enabled me to do for myself*
Having carried on my work thus far with so little obli-
gation to any favorer of learning, I shall not be disap-
pointed though I should conclude it, should less be
possible, with less; for I have been long wakened from
that dream of hope in which I once boasted myself with
so much exultation, my Lord.
Your Lordship's most humble, most obedient servant,
HE critics, I believe, have made a
distinction between large men and
Samuel Johnson was both.
He was massive in intellect, colossal
in culture, prodigious in memory,
weighed nigh three hundred pounds,
and had prejudices to match. He
was possessed of a giant's strength, and occasionally
used it like a giant for instance, when he felled an
offending bookseller with a folio.
Johnson was most unfortunate in his biographer. In
picturing the great writer, Boswell writes more enter-
tainingly than Johnson ever did, and thereby overtops
his subject* And when in reply to the intimation tfeat
Boswell was going to write his life, Johnson answered,
" If I really thought he was, I would take his," he spoke
a jest in earnest.
Walking along Market Street in the city of Saint Louis,
with a friend, not long ago, my comrade suddenly
stopped and excitedly pointed out a man across the way
" Look quick there he goes! " exclaimed my friend,
" that man with the derby and duster see? That *s the
husband of Mrs. Lease of Kansas! " And all I could say
was, ** God help him! "
Not but that Mrs* Lease is a most
amiable lady; but the idea of a man, made in the image
of his Maker, being reduced to the social state of a
drone-bee is most depressing.
Among that worthy class of people referred to some-
what ironically as " the reading public/' Boswell is
read, but Johnson never. And so sternly true is the
fact that many critics, set on a hair-trigger, aver that
were it not for Boswell no one would now know that
a writer by the name of Johnson ever lived. Yet the
fact is, Boswell ruined the literary reputation of John-
son by intimating that Johnson wrote Johnsonese; but
that is a mistake,
Johnson never wrote Johnsonese. The piling up of
reasons, the cumulation of argument setting off epi-
gram against epigram that mark Johnson's literary
style are its distinguishing features. He is profound,
but always lucid. And lucidity is just what modern
Johnsonese lacks. The word was coined by a man who
had neither the patience to read Johnson nor the ability
to comprehend him. Only sophomores, and private
secretaries who write speeches for able Congressmen,
Quibblers possibly may arise and present Johnson's
definition of network " anything reticulated or decus-
sated at equal distances with interstices between the
intersections ** but with the quibbler we have no
time to dally. Some people insist on having their
literature illustrated, just as others refuse to attend
lectures that are not reinforced by a stereopticon.
<I Johnson had a style that is stately, dignified, splendid.
It moves from point to point with absolute precision,
and in it there is seldom anything ambiguous, muddy,
confused or uncertain* Get down a volume of " Lives
of the Poets," and prove my point for yourself, by
opening at any page. It was Boswell who set his own
light, chatty and amusing gossip over against the wise,
stately diction of Johnson, and allowed Goldsmith to
say, " Dear Doctor, if you were to write a story about
little fishes, you would make them talk like whales,"
and the mud ball has stuck. The average man is much
more willing to take the wily BoswelTs word for it
than to read Johnson for himself.
The balanced power of Johnson's English can not fail
to delight the student of letters who cares to interest
himself in the matter of sentence-building. Johnson
handles a thought with such ease! He makes you think
of the circus " strong man " who tosses the cannon-
ball marked " weight 250 Ibs/' What if the balk are
sometimes only wood painted black! Have we not
been entertained? Read this specimen paragraph:
" Criticism is a study by which men grow important
and formidable at very small expense. The power of
invention has been conferred by Nature upon few, and
die labor of learning those sciences which may by con-
tinuotis effort be obtained is too great to be willingly
endured; but every maa can exert such judgment as he
has upon the works of others; and he whom Nature
has made weak, and idleness keeps ignorant, may yet
support his vanity by the name of ' critic/ M
But the greatest literary light of his day has been
thrown into the shadow by a man whom no one sus-
pected of being able to write entertainingly. In the
world of letters the great Cham exists only as a lesser
luminary; just as the once-noted novelist, George Henry
Lewes, is now known only as the husband of George
Eliot & &
And yet no one is so rash as to say that the name of
Boswell would now be known were it not for Johnson.
And conversely (or otherwise), if it were the proper
place, I could show that were it not for George Henry
Lewes we should never have had " Adam Bede " or
" The Mill on the Floss."
Boswell wrote the best " Life " ever written. Nothing
like it was ever written before; nothing to equal it has
been written since. It has had hundreds of imitators,
but no competitors. Matthew Arnold said that no man
ever had so good a subject, but Arnold for the moment
seemed to forget that Hawkins, a professional literary
man, published his " Life of Johnson " long before
Boswell's was sent to the printer and who reads
Hawkins? 33 53
Surely Boswell had a great subject, and he rises to the
level of his theme and makes the most of it. At times
I have wondered if Boswell were not really a genius
so great and profound that he was willing to play the
fool, as Edgar in " Lear " plays the maniac, and allow
himself to be snubbed (in print) in order to make his
telling point! Millionaires can well afford to wear
ragged coats. Second-rate man Boswell may have been,
as he himself so oft admits, yet as a biographer he stands
first in the front rank. But suppose his extreme igno-
rance was only the domino disguising a cleverness so
subtle that it was not discovered until after his death!
And what if he smiles now, as from out of Elysium he
looks and beholds how, as a writer, he has eclipsed old
Ursa Major, and thus clipped the claws that were ready
for any chance Scot who might pass that way!
John Hay has suggested that possibly the insight,
piquancy and calm wisdom of Omar Khayyam are
two-thirds essence of FitzGerald. If so, the joke is on
Omar, not on FitzGerald.
A dozen of Johnson's contemporaries wrote about him,
and all make him out a profound scholar, a deep phi-
losopher, a facile writer. Boswell by his innocent quoting
and recounting makes his conversation outstrip all of his
other accomplishments. He reveals the man by the most
skilful indirection, and by leaving his guard down, often
allows the reader to score a point. And of all devices of
writing folk, none is finer than to please the reader by
allowing him to pat himself on the back.
If a writer is too clever he repels. Shakespeare avoids
the difficulty, and proves himself the master by keeping
out of sight; Renan wins by a great show of modesty
and deferential fairness; Boswell assumes an artlessness
and ignorance that were really not parts of his nature.
Every man who reads Boswell considers himself the
superior of Boswell, and therefore is perfectly at home.
It is not pleasant to be in the society of those who are
much your superiors. Any man who sits in the company
of Samuel Pepys for a half-hour feels a sort of half-
patronizing pity for him, and therefore is happy, for
to patronize is bliss.
If Boswell has reinforced fact with fiction, and given
us art for truth, then his character of Samuel Johnson
is the most vividly conceived and deeply etched in all
the realm of books. But if he gives merely the simple
facts, then Boswell is no less a genius, for he has omitted
the irrelevant and inconsequential, and by playing off
the excellent against the absurd, he has placed his
subject among the few great wits who have ever lived
a man who wrote remarkably well, but talked infinitely
better & 53
pNTAIGNE advises young men that if they
will fall in love, why, to fall in love with
women older than themselves. His argument
is that a young and pretty woman makes
such a demand on a man's time and attention that she is
sure, eventually, to wear love to the warp. So the wise old
Gascon suggests that it is the part of wisdom to give your
affection to one who is both plain and elderly one who
is not suffering from a surfeit of love, and one whose
head has not been turned by flattery. " Young women/*
says the philosopher, " demand attention as their right
and often flout the giver; whereas old women are very
grateful/' 53 33
Whether Samuel Johnson, of Lichfield, ever read
Montaigne or not is a question; but this we know,
that when he was twenty-six he married the Widow
Porter, aged forty-nine.
Assuming that Johnson had read Montaigne and was
mindful of his advice, there were other excellent reasons
why he did not link his fortunes with those of a young
and pretty woman.
Johnson in his youth, as well as throughout life, was
a Grind of the pure type. The Grind is a fixture, a few
being found at every University, even unto this day.
The present writer, once in a book of fiction, founded
on fact, took opcasion to refer to the genus Grind,
with Samuel Johnson in mind, as follows: He is poor
in purse, but great in frontal development*
He goes to school because he wishes to (no one ever
" sent " a Grind to college). He has a sallow skin, a
watery eye, a shambling gait, but he has the facts.
His clothes are outgrown, his coat shiny, his linen a
dull ecru, his hands clammy. He reads a book as he
walks, and when he bumps into you, he always excul-
pates himself in Attic Greek.
This absent-mindedness and habit of reading on the
street affords the Sport (another college type) great
opportunity for the playing of pranks. It is very funny
to walk along in front of a Grind who is reading as he
walks, and then suddenly stop and stoop, and let the
Grind fall over you; for the innocent Grind, thinking
he has been at fault, is ever profuse in apologies.
Many years ago there was a Grind. A party of Sports
saw him approaching, deeply immersed in his book.
" Look you," quoth the chief of the Sports " look
you and observe him fall over me/ 5
And they looked.
Onward blindly trudged the Grind, reading as he came.
The Sport stepped ahead of him, stooped, and
one big foot of the Grind shot out and kicked him into
the gutter. Then the Grind continued his walk and his
reading without saying a word.
This incident is here recorded for the betterment of
the Young, to show them that things are not always
what they seem,
Samuel Johnson, I have said, was a Grind of the pure
type. He was so nearsighted that he fell over chairs in
drawing-rooms, and so awkward that his long arms
occasionally brushed the bric-a-brac from mantels. No
lady's train was safe if he was in the room. At gather-
ings of young people, if Johnson appeared, his presence
was at once the signal for mirth, of which he was, of
course, the unconscious object.
Johnson's face was scarred by the King's Evil, which
even the touch of Queen Anne had failed to cure. While
a youth he talked aloud to himself a privilege that
should be granted only to those advanced in years. He
would grunt out prayers and expletives at uncertain
times, keep up a clucking sound with his tongue, sway
his big body from side to side, and drum a tattoo upon
his knee. Now and again would come a suppressed
whistle, and then a low humming sound, backed up by
a vacant non-compos-mentis smile.
Another odd whim of Johnson's was, that he would
never pass a lamp-post without touching it, and would
go back miles upon his way to repair an omission.
Surely great wit to madness is near allied.
This most strange young man was a boarder in the
home of Mrs. Porter, when her husband was alive,
and the husband and boarder had been fast friends
drawn together by a bookish bias.
Very naturally, when the husband passed away, the
boarder sought to console the bereaved landlady, and
the result was as usual. And when, long years sifter,
Johnson would solemnly explain that it was a pure
love-match on both sides, the statement never failed
to excite much needless and ill-suppressed merriment
on the part of the listeners. In mimicking the endear-
ments of Johnson and his ** pretty creature " so the
admiring husband called her Garrick many years
later added to his artistic reputation*
Unlike most literary men, Johnson was domestic, and
his marriage was one of the most happy events of his
career. But to show that the philosophy of Montaigne
is not infallible, and that all signs fail in dry weather,
it may be stated that the bride proved by her conduct
on her wedding-day that she had some relish of the
saltness of time in her cosmos, despite her fifty sum-
mers and as many hard winters.
Said Johnson to Boswell, referring to the horseback-ride
home after the wedding-ceremony: " Sir, she had read
the old romances, and had got into her head the fantas-
tical notion that a woman of spirit should use her lover
like a dog. So, sir, at first she told me that I rode too f cist,
and she could not keep up with me; and when I rode a
little slower, she passed me, and complained that I lagged
behind. I was not to be made the slave of caprice; and I
resolved to begin as I meant to end. I therefore pushed
on briskly, till I was fairly out of sight. The road lay
between two hedges, so I was sure she could not miss it;
and I contrived that she should soon come up with me.
When she did I observed her to be in tears."
HORTLY after his marriage, Johnson opened
a private school for boys. To operate a private
school successfully implies a certain amount
of skill in the management of parents; but
Johnson's uncouth manners and needlessly blunt speech
were appalling to those who had children who might
possibly be given to imitation.
Only three pupils were secured, and but one of these
received any benefit from the tutor; and this benefit
came, according to the scholar, from the master's sup-
plying an excellent object for ridicule.
This pupil's name was David Garrick.
The meeting with David Garrick was a pivotal point
in the life of Johnson. Johnson's mental and spiritual
existence flowed on, separate and apart from that of
his wife. There was no meeting of the waters. His affec-
tion for her was most tender and constant, but in
quality it seemed to differ but slightly from the senti-
ment he entertained toward " Hodge/' his cat.
Hodge was fed on oysters that his owner could ill
afford; and after Johnson had spent the little fortune
that belonged to his wife, the lady was regaled on the
best and choicest that his income, or credit, could
secure. But if one of those lightning-flashes of wit
ever escaped him in her direction, we do not know it.
Garrick evidently was the first flint that tried his steeL
The distinctions of teacher and scholar were soon lost
between these two, and the lessons took the turn of a
fusillade of wit. They made comments on the authors
they read, and comments on the people they met, and
criticized each other with encaustic remarks that tested
friendship to its extremest limit. And this continual
skirmish that would have made sworn foes of common
men in a day revealed to each that the other had the
element of unexpectedness in his nature and was worth
loving 53 53
Humor and melancholy go hand in hand; both are born
of an extreme sensitiveness, and the man who smiles
at the trivial misfits of life realizes also that all men
who tread the earth are living under a sentence of
death, and that Fate has merely allowed them an
indefinite, but limited, reprieve.
At the outset of Johnson's career, one can not but see
that the companionship and nimble wit of Garrick
saved his ponderous and melancholy mind from going
And now we find them: one twenty-eight, big, near-
sighted, theoretical, blundering; and the other twenty-
one, slight, active, graceful, practical. They were alike
in this: they both loved books and were possessed of
the eager, earnest, receptive mind. To possess the
hospitable mind! For what greater blessing can one
pray? 53 53
And then they were alike in other respects they were
desperately poor; neither had an income; neither had
a profession; both were ambitious. Johnson had written
a tragedy " Irene " and he had read it to Garrick
several times, and Garrick said it was good and should
make a hit. But Garrick did n't know much about
tragedies law was his bent he had read law for two
years, off and on. They would go to London and seize
fortune by the scalp-lock. In London good lawyers were
needed, and London was the only place for a playwright,
*I They scraped together their pennies, borrowed a few
more, got a single letter of introduction between them
to some person of unknown influence, and started away,
with the lacrimose blessings of the elderly bride, and
of Davy's mother.
They must have been a queer sight when the stage let
them down at the Strand dusty, dirty, tired and
scared by the babel of sounds and sights! And no doubt
Johnson's enormous size saved them from sundry insults
and divers taunts that otherwise might have come their
way 33 33
Those first few weeks in London were given to staring
into shop-windows and wandering, open-mouthed, up
and down. No one wanted the tragedy the managers
all sniffed at it. Little then did Davy dream, as they
made their way from the office of one theater-manager
to that of another, that he himself would some day
own a theater and give the discarded play its first set-
ting. And little did he think that he would yet be the
foremost actor of his time, and his awkward mate the
literary dictator of London. Oh! this game of life is a
great play! The blissful uncertainty of it all! The ambi-
tions, plans, strivings, heartaches, mad desires and vain
reaching out of empty arms! The tears, the bitter
disappointments, the sleepless nights, the echoes of
prayers unheard, and the hollow hopelessness of love
turned to hate!
And then mayhap we do as Emerson did go out into
the woods, and all the trees say, " Why so hot, my
little man? *'
Garrick, disappointed and undone at the thought of
defeat in his chosen profession, turned to commercial
life and then to the theater. At his first stage appear-
ance he trembled with diffidence and all but fled in
fright. He persevered, for he could do nothing else.
He arose step by step, and honors, wealth and fame
were his. Love came to him: he wedded the woman of
his choice. And after his death she survived for forty-
three years. She lived one hundred years, lacking two.
Garrick was born in Seventeen Hundred Sixteen; and
his wife died in Eighteen Hundred Twenty-two, which
seems to bring the times of Johnson pretty close home
to us. Throughout her long life, she lived in the memory
of the love that had been hers ; cherishing and protecting,
idolizing, as did Mary Shelley, the one name and that
alone 53 53
Johnson and Garrick thoroughly respected and admired
each other, yet they often quarreled they quarreled
to the last. But when Davy had lain him down in his
last sleep, aged sixty-three, it was Johnson, aged
seventy, who wrote his epitaph, introducing into it the
deathless sentence * * * " by that stroke of death
which has eclipsed the gaiety of nations, and impov-
erished the public stock of harmless pleasure/'
HREE months in London and Johnson suc-
ceeded in getting a place on the editorial staff
of ** The Gentleman's Magazine. " Prosperity
smiled, not exactly a broad grin; but the
expression was something better than a stony, forbid-
He made haste to go back to Lichfield after his ** Letty,"
which name, by the way, is an improvement on Betty,
Betsy or Tetsy being baby-talk for Elizabeth.
They took modest lodgings in a third floor back, off
Fleet Street, and Johnson began that life of struggle
against debt, ridicule and unkind condition that was to
continue for forty-seven years; never out of debt, never
free from attacks of enemies; a life of wordy warfare
and inky broadsides against cant, affectation and
untruth with the weapons of his dialectics always
kept well burnished by constant use; hated and loved;
jeered and praised; feared and idolized.
Coming out of his burrow one dark night, he encoun-
tered an old beggar-woman who importuned him for
alms. He was brushing past her, when one of her
exclamations caught his ear.
"Sir," said the woman, " I am an old struggler!" $&
" Madam," replied Johnson, "so am I!" And he gave
her his last sixpence.
But life in London was cheap in those days it is now
if you know how to do it, or else have to. Johnson
used to maintain that for thirty pounds a year one could
live like a gentleman, and as proof would quote an
imaginary acquaintance who argued that ten pounds a
year for clothes would keep a man in good appearance;
a garret could be hired for eighteen pence a week, and
if any one asked your address you could reply, " I am
to be found in such a place." Threepence laid out at a
coffeehouse would enable one to pass some hours a
day in good company; dinner might be had for six-
pence, and supper you could do without. On clean-shirt
day you could go abroad and call on your lady friends.
Among Johnson's first literary tasks in London was
the work of reporting the debates in Parliament. In
order that the best possible results might be obtained,
he resorted to the rather unique, but not entirely orig-
inal, method of not attending Parliament at alL Two or
three young men would be sent to listen to the debates;
they would make notes giving the general drift of the
argument, and Johnson would write out the speech.
His style was exactly suited to this kind of work, being
eminently rhetorical. And as at the time no public
record of proceedings was kept and Parliament did not
allow the press the liberty it now possesses all being
as it were clouded in mysterious awe these reports
of debates were eagerly sought after. To evade the
law, a fictitious name was given the speaker, or his
initials used in such a way that the individual could be
easily recognized by the reading public*
Some of Johnson's best work was done at this time*
and in several instances the speaker, not slow to
appreciate a good thing, allowed the matter to be reis-
sued as his own* Long years after, a certain man was
once praising the speeches of Lord Chesterfield and was
led on to make explanations. He did so, naming two
speeches, one of which he zealously declared had the
style of Cicero; the other that of Demosthenes. John-
son becalmed the speaker by agreeing with him as Jo
the excellence of the speeches, and then adding, " I
Wrote them both/'
The gruffness of Ursa Major should never be likened
to that of the Sage of Chelsea. Carlyle vented his
spleen on the nearest object, as irate gentlemen some-
times kick at the cat; but Johnson merely sparred for
paints. When Miss Monckton undertook to refute his
statements as to the shallowness of Sterne by declar-
ing that " Tristram Shandy " affected her to tears,
Johnson rolled himself into contortions, made an
exasperating grimace* and replied, ** Why, dearest, that
is because you are a dunce!" Afterward, when re-
proached for the remark, he replied, " Madam, if I had
thought so, I surely would not have said it/'
Once, at the house of Garrick, to the terror of every
one, Burke contradicted Johnson flatly, but Johnson's
good sense revealed itself by his making no show of
resentment. Burke's experience was, it must be said,
exceptional. An equally exciting, but harmless occasion,
was the only time that the author of " Rasselas "
met the man who wrote the " Wealth of Nations.**
Johnson called Adam Smith a liar, and Smith promptly
handed back an epithet not in the Dictionary. Never-
theless, old Ursa spoke in an affectionate praise of
" Adam/* as he called him thereafter, thus recognizing
the right of the other man to be frank if he cared to
be. Johnson wanted no privilege that he was not will-
ing to grant to others except perhaps that of dictator
When Blair asked Johnson if he thought any modern
man could have written 4 * Ossian/' Johnson replied,
" Yes, sir many men, many |romen, and many chil-
dren/* And if Blair took umbrage at the remark, so
much the worse for Blair.
We have recently heard of the Boston lady who died
and went to Heaven, and on being questioned by an
archangel as to how she liked it, replied languid!y f
" Very, very beautiful it all is!*' And then sighed and
kdded, ** But it is not Boston!" This story seems to
illustrate that all tales have their prototype, for Bos**
well tells of taking Doctor Johnson out to Greenwich
Park, and saying, "Now, now, isn't this fine!" But
Johnson would not enthuse; he only grunted, "All
very fine but it *s not Fleet Street/*
On another occasion when a Scotchman was dilating
on the noble prospects to be enjoyed among the hills
of Scotland, Johnson called a halt by saying, " Sir, let
me tell you that tibe noblest prospect a Scotchman ever
sees is the highroad that leads him to England/* 53
This seems to evince a strong prejudice toward Scot-
land, and several Scots, with their usual plentiful lack
of wit, have so solemnly written it down. But the
more sensible way is to conclude that the situation
simply afforded opportunity for a little harmless banter.
<I Another equally indisputable proof of prejudice is
shown when Boswell tells Johnson of the wonderful
preaching of a Quaker woman. Johnson listened in
grim, cold silence and then exclaimed: " Sir, a woman's
preaching is like a dog's walking on its hind legs. It is
not done well; but you are surprised to find it done
at all/' 53 53
One of the leading encyclopedias, I see, says, " Doctor
Johnson was one of the greatest conversationalists of
afl time/' The writer evidently does not distinguish
between talk, conversation and harangue. Johnson
could talk and he often harangued; but he was not a
conversationalist. Neither could he address a public
assembly, and I do not find that he ever attempted it.
Good talkers are seldom orators. One reads with
amusement tinged with pity, of Carlyle's sleepless
nights and cold, terror-fraught anticipations of his
Lord Rector's speech. In deliberative gatherings a
Very small man could apply the snuffers to the great
Dictator of Letters.
" Sir/' said Doctor Johnson to a talkative politician, at
a dinner-party, " I perceive you are a vile Whig/' and
then lie proceeded to demolish him. Yet Johnson him-
self was a Whig, although he never knew it; just as he
was a liberal in religion, and yet was boastful of being
a stanch Churchman.
Johnson's irritability never vented itself against the
helpless. His charity knew no limit not even the bot-
tom of his purse. When he had no money to give, he
borrowed it. And when his pension was three hundred
pounds a year, the Thrales could not figure out that he
spent more than seventy or eighty on himself. The
rest went to his dependents. In his latter days his
home was a regular museum of waifs and strays.
There was Miss Williams, the ancient aristocratic
spinster who came to London to have an operation
performed on one of her eyes. She came to Johnson's
home and remained ten years, because she had been a
friend of his wife. This claim was enough, and she slid
into the head place in Johnson's household. Her pee-
vishness used to drive the old man, at times, into the
street; but that tongue of his, with its crushing retorts,
'was ever silent and tender towards her. The poor
creature became blind, and used to shock the finicky
Boswell by testing the fulness of the teacups with
Then there was a Mrs. Desmoulins and her daughter,
who drifted down from Lichfield and came to Johnson,
because forty years before, he, too, had lived in Lich-
fiekL He gave them house-room, treated them as guests,
and each week left a half -guinea on the mantel of their
room 33 55
Then there was the broken-down Levett, and Francis
Barber, who, coming as a servant, remained as one of
the family, because he was too old to work. A Miss
Carmichael, in green spectacles and bombazine, carry-
ing a cane, completed what the Doctor called his
" seraglio/' Writing to Mrs. Thrale in playful mood,
telling of his household troubles, he says, " Williams
hates everybody; Levett hates Desmoulins, and does
not love Williams; Desmoulins hates them both; Poll
loves none of them/* And he, the great, gruff and mighty
Ursa Major, listened to all their woes, caring for them
in sickness, wiping the death-dew from their foreheads,
wearing crape upon his sleeve for them when dead 5S
HIS man tasted all the fame that is one man's
due; he had all the money he needed, or knew
how to use; the coveted LL. D. came from his
Alma Mater; and the patronage from. Lord
Chesterfield, for which he craved, only that he might
fling it back. He was the friend and confidant of the
great and proud, deferred to by the King and sought
out by those who prized the far-reaching mind and
subtle imagination the things that link us with the
Infinite. The fear of hell and dread of death that haunted
him in youth and middle age, finally gave way to faith
and trust. When partial paralysis came to him at mid-
night, his sanity did not fail him, and knowing the worst*
he yet hesitated to disturb the other members of the
household, but went to sleep, philosophizing on tie
phenomena of the case alert for more knowledge, as
was his wont. Morning came and being speechless, he
wrote on his ever-ready pad of paper and handing
the sheet to his servant, watched with amused glances
the perplexity and terror of the man. He next wrote to
his friend, Mrs. Thrale, that letter, a classic of wit and
resignation, wherein he explains his condition and
excuses himself for not calling upon her and explaining
the matter by word of mouth.
Such willingness to accept the inevitable is curative.
He grew better and recovered his speech. But old age
is a disease that hats no cure save death. Johnson
accepted the issue as a fea^eman shouM thankful for
the gift of conscious life that had been his. When the
last hour was nigh he sent loving messages to his nearest
friends, repeating their names over one by one. His
last recorded words were directed to a young woman
who called upon him, " God bless you, my dear."
And so he passed painlessly and quietly into the sleep
that knows no waking; pleased at last to know that
his dust would rest in Westminster Abbey.
Thus ended, as the day dies out of the, western sky,
this life, seemingly so full of tempest and contradic-
tion. The autumn of his life was full of enjoyment, and
no day passed but that some one, weak, weary and
worn, arose and called him blessed. Most of his wild
imprecations and blustering contradictionswere reserved
for those who fattened on such things, and who came to
be tossed and gored. In his spirit Socrates and Falstaff
joined hands. In his life there was a deal of gladness
far, far more than of misery and unrest; which fact I
believe is true of every life.
The Universe seems planned for good.
A world made up of such men as Samuel Johnson
would be a wild chaos of tasks undone. But since
Nature has never sent but one such man, and more than
a century has passed since his death and we know not
yet with whom to compare him, we need have no fears.
The world is held in place through the opposition of
forces: and the body of every healthy man is the
battle-ground of animal organisms that match strength
against strength. So, too, a healthy society always has
these active and sturdy organisms, which set in play
other forces that hold in check their seeming excess.
That the Divine Energy should incarnate itself and find
expression in the form of a man, and that this man
should inspire others to think and write, to do and dare,
is a subject the contemplation of which should make
us stand uncovered. The companionship of Johnson
inspired Reynolds to better painting, Garrick to stronger
acting, Burke to more profound thinking and hundreds
of others, too, quenched their thirst at the rock which
he smote whenever he discoursed or wrote.
Sympathy is the first essential to insight. So with syn>
pathy, I pray, behold this blundering giant, and you
will see that the basis of his character was a great
Sincerity. He was honest doggedly honest and saw
with flashing vision the thing that was; and thither he
followed, crowding, pushing, knocking down whatso-
ever opinion or prejudice was in the way. And so he
ever struggled forward. But hate him not, for he is thy
brother yea! he is brother to all who strive and reach
forward toward the IdeaL Shining through dust and
disorder, now victorious, now eclipsed in deepest
gloom, in him is the light of genius; and this is never
base, but at the worst is admirable, lovable with pity*
There was pride in his heart, but no vanity; and he
should be loved for this if for no other reason; he had
the courage to make an enemy. In his great heart were
wild burstings of affection, and a Lunger for love that
only the grave requited. There, too, were fierce flashes
of wrath, smothered in an hour by the soft dew of pity.
His faults and follies were manifold, as he often
lamented with tears; but the soul of the man was sub-
lime in its qualities worldwide in its influence.
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
The perfect historian is he in whose work the character
and spirit of the age is exhibited in miniature. He relates
no fact, he attributes no expression to his characters,
which is not authenticated by sufficient testimony. But
by judicious selection, rejection and arrangement, he
gives to truth those attractions which have been
usurped by fiction. In his narrative a due subordination
is observed: some transactions are prominent; others
retire. But the scale on which he represents them is
increased or diminished, not according to the dignity of
the persons concerned in them, but according to the
degree in which they elucidate the condition of society
and the nature of man.
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
UCCESS is in the blood, q There
are men whom Fate can never
keep down they march jauntily
forward, and take by divine right
the best of everything that earth
affords. But their success is not
attained by the Doctor Samuel
Smiles Connecticut policy. They do
not lie in wait, nor scheme, nor fawn, nor seek to adapt
their sails to catch the breeze of popular favor. Still, they
are ever alert and alive to any good that may come their
way, and when it comes they simply appropriate it, and
tarrying not, move steadily forward.
Good health! Whenever you go out of doors, draw
the chin in, carry the crown of your head high, and fill
the lungs to the utmost; drink in sunshine; greet your
friends with a smile, and put soul into every hand-clasp.
Do not fear being misunderstood and never waste a
minute thinking about your enemies. Try to fix firmly
in your mind what you would like to do, and thfcn
without violence of direction you will move straight
to die goal.
Fear is the rock on which we split, and hate is the
shoal cm which many a bark is stranded. When we
are fearful, the judgment is as unreliable as the com-
pass of a ship whose hold is full of iron ore; when we
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
hate, we have unshipped the rudder; and if we stop
to meditate on what the gossips say, we have allowed
a hawser to befoul the screw.
Keep your mind on the great and splendid thing you
would like to do; and then, as the days go gliding by,
you will find yourself unconsciously seizing upon the
opportunities that are required for the fulfilment of
your desire, just as the coral-insect takes from the
running tide the elements that it needs. Picture in your
mind the able, earnest, useful person you desire to be,
and the thought you hold is hourly transforming you
into that particular individual. Thought is supreme,
and to think is often better than to do.
Preserve a right mental attitude the attitude of cour-
age, frankness and good-cheer.
To think rightly is to create.
Darwin and Spencer have told us that this is the method
of Creation. Each animal has evolved the parts it
needed and desired. The horse is fleet because it wishes
to be; the bird flies because it desires to; the duck
has a web-foot because it wants to swim. All things
come through desire, and every sincere prayer is
answered. Many people know this, but they do not
believe it thoroughly enough so that it shapes their
lives $$ &
We want friends, so we scheme and chase 'cross lots
after strong people, and lie in wait for good folks or
alleged good folks hoping to attach ourselves to
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
them. The only way to secure friends is to be one.
<I And before you are fit for friendship you must be able
to do without it. That is to say, you must have suffi-
cient self-reliance to take care of yourself, and then out
of the surplus of your energy you can do for others.
The man who craves friendship, and yet desires a self-
centered spirit more, will never lack for friends.
If you would have friends, cultivate solitude instead
of society. Drink in the ozone; bathe in the sunshine;
and out in the silent night, under the stars, say to your-
self again and yet again, " I am a part of all my eyes
behold! " And the feeling will surely come to you that
you are no mere interloper between earth and skyj
but that you are a necessary particle of the Whole. No
harm can come to you that does not come to all, anc|
if you shall go down, it can only be amid a wreck of
worlds 53 33
Thus by laying hold on the forces of the Universe, you
are strong with them. And when you realize this, all
else is easy, for in your arteries course red corpuscles,
and in your heart there is the will to do and be. Carry
your chin in, and the crown of your head high. We are
gods in the chrysalis.
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
HOMAS B. MACAULAY was small in stat-
ure; but he always carried ids chin well in
and the crown of his head high.
It was said of Rubens that throughout his
lifetime he kept success tied to the leg of his easel with
a blue ribbon. If ever a writing man had success tied
to the leg of his easy chair, that man was Macaulay 33
In the characters and careers of Rubens and Macaulay
there is a marked resemblance.
When Macaulay was twenty-two he was at Cambridge,
and the tidings arrived that a dire financial storm had
wrecked the family fortune. The young man had ever
been led to suppose that his father was rich rich
beyond all danger from loss and that he himself would
never have a concern beyond amusing himself, and the
cultivation of his intellect. And so in practical affairs
his education had been sadly neglected. But when the
news of calamity came, instead of being depressed, he
was elated to think that now he could make himself
Responsibility gravitates to the man who can shoulder
it. Strong men who can wisely direct the efforts of
others are always needed they were needed in Eight-
een Hundred Twenty-two, when Tom Macaulay
received word of his father's trouble they are needed
today more than then men who meet calamity with a
smile and are pleased at sight of obstacles, knowing they
can overcome them. Augustine Birrell has written,
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
** Macaulay always went his sublime way rejoicing like
a strong man to run a race, knowing full well that he
could give anybody five yards in fifty and win easily."
f Macaulay took up the burden that his father was not
able to bear, mastered every detail of the business,
studied out the weak points, and then explained to the
creditors just what they had better do.
And they did it.
We always trust the man who has courage plus,
enthusiasm to spare, and who shows by his manner that
he is master of the situation.
In a few years Macaulay saved from the wreck enough
to secure his father, mother and sisters against want
for the rest of their days, and eventually he paid every
creditor in full with interest. Had he run away from
the difficulty, as his father was on the point of doing,
the family would have been turned homeless into the
streets 53 53
Moral Things are never so bad as they seem; and all
difficulties sneak away when you look them squarely
in the eye.
At this time the family, consisting of the father, mother,
three sisters and a brother, lived at Fifty Great Ormond
Street, not far from the British Museum. The house
is still standing, but I recently discovered that the
occupants know nothing, and care less, about Thomas
Macaulay 53 53
Toina was the child of his mother, In temperament,
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
disposition and physique he was as much unlike his
father as two men can well be. Old Zachary Macau! ay
was a strong, earnest man who took himself seriously*
In latter years he grew morose, puritanic and was full
of dread of the Unseen. He preached long sermons to
his family, cautioned them against frivolity, forbade
music, tabued games, and constantly spoke of the
tongue as '* the unruly member."
He, of course, was not aware of it, but he was teaching
his children by antithesis.
" When I meet Macaulay I always imagine I am in
Holland/* once said Sydney Smith.
" Why so! " asked a friend.
" Because he is such a windmill/' was the reply,
But then we must remember that Sydney Smith never
much liked Macaulay they were too near alike. When-
ever they met there was usually a wordy duel. " He
is so overflowing with learning that it runs over and
he stands in the slop/* said Smith.
Tom talked a great deal, he was fond of music and
games, and was never so pleased as when engaging in
some wild frolic with his sisters and any chance young-
ster that happened to stray in. His sister, Lady Tre-
velyan, has recorded that during those days of gloom
which followed her father's failure, matters were made
worse by the stricken man moping at home and tight-
ening the domestic discipline.
Tom never resented this, but on the instant the father
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
would leave the house, it was the signal of a wild pan-
demonium of disorder. Tom would play he was a tiger,
and crawling under the sofa would emit fearful growls
that would cause the children to scream with pre-
tended fright. Next they would play fire, and pile all the
furniture in the center of the room, heaping books,
clothing, rugs on top. Then Tom would " rescue " his
mother if she appeared on the scene, and seizing her
in his arms carry her to a place of safety, and then
engage in a pillow-fight if she came back.
This wild frolic was always a delight to the children,
and Tom's homecoming was ever watched with eager
anticipation. His visits shot the gloom through with
sunshine, and when he went away even the neighbors*
children were in tears. His health and enthusiasm
infected everybody he met.
In the course of looking after his father's business
Macaulay unlearned most of the previous lessons of
his life, and taught himself that to do for others and
sink self was the manly method. But so lightly did he
bear the burden that it is doubtful if he ever considered
he was making any sacrifice.
When his father died, Macaulay put entirely out of his
mind the question of a household separate and apart
from that of his mother and sisters. He devoted him-
self entirely to them; he wanted no other love than
theirs 35 33
Unlike so many men of decided talent, the best and
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
most loving side of Macaulay's nature was made
manifest at home. His bubbling wit, brilliant conver-
sation, and good-cheer were for his own fireside, first;
and all that cutting, critical, scathing flood of invec-
tive was for the public that wore a rhinoceros-hide.
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
]ACAULAY'S article on Milton, published
during his twenty-fifth year, in the " Edin-
burgh Review," is generally regarded as a
most wonderful achievement " Just think! "
the critics cry " the first article printed to be of a
quality that electrified the world! " But we must
remember that this youth had been getting ready to
write that article for ten years.
At college Macaulay shirked mathematics and philos-
ophy, spending his time and attention on things he
liked better. The only study in which he excelled was
composition. Even, in babyhood his command of lan-
guage had been a wonder to the neighborhood in which
he lived. Hannah More had for a time taken him under
her immediate charge and prophesied great things of
his literary faculty; and his mother was not slow in
seconding the opinion.
At Cambridge he already had more than a local repu-
tation as a writer, and it was this reputation that
secured him the commission to write for the " Review.'*
The terrible Jeffrey was getting old and his regular
staff had pretty nearly worked out their vein. Jeffrey
wrote up to London (being south) to a friend telling
him that the " Review " must have new blood, and
imploring him to be on the lookout for some young
man who had ideas in his ink-bottle.
This friend knew the vigor and incisiveness of Macau-
lay's style, and as he read the fetter from Jeffrey he
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
exclaimed, " Macaulay! " f It was a great compliment
to a mere youth to be asked to contribute to the
" Edinburgh Review/' Edinburgh was a literary center,
and you could not throw a stone in Princess Street, any
more than you can in Tremont Street, Boston, without
hitting a poet and caroming on two novel-writers and
Thomas Carlyle, five years older than Macaulay, and
Who was to live and write for twenty-five years after
Macaulay's passing, had not yet struck twelve* Lon-
don, too, like Edinburgh, was full of writing men,
standing in the market-places of Grub Street with no
man to hire.
And yet Fate sought out Tom Macaulay, five feet four,
who had plenty of other work on hand; and through
that single " Essay on Milton " he sprang at once
into the front rank of British writers and at the same
time there was thrust into his hands a bonus of fifty
pounds for the work.
As a study of a thing that made the reputation of a
writer, the ** Milton " is worth a careful reading. It is
very sure that in America today there are a hundred
men who could write just as good an article, but
whether these men are Macaulays or not is quite
another question. But it is not at all probable that e
writer will ever again leap into place and power on so
small a feat.
Yet the article surely shows all the dash and vigor
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
that mark Macaulay's literary style. There Is person-
ality in it; it reveals the red corpuscle; and tells without
question that there is a man behind the guns, It was
opportune; for literature at that particular time had
reached a point where the sciolist was in full possession,
and the dead husks of learning were being palmed off
for the living thoughts of living men.
Periodicity reveals itself in all Nature, and even in the
world of thought there are years of famine and years
of plenty. Dry rot gets into letters; things are ripe for
a revolution; the tinder is dry, and along comes some
Martin Luther and applies the torch.
Macaulay simply expressed himself boldly, frankly,
and without thought of favor writing as he felt.
The article made a great stir the first edition of the
magazine was quickly exhausted, and Macaulay awoke
one morning, like Byron, and found himself famous.
All there was about it, the " Milton " revealed a man,
a strong, vivid-thinking, vigorous man, who, seeing
things clearly, wrote from his heart. Art is born of
feeling: it is heart, not head, that carries conviction
home; but if you have both, as Macaulay had, it is BO
From the publication of Macaulay's first article the
" Review " took on a new lease of life. Prosperity
came that way and for the rest of his life the ** Review "
was not long without contributions from his pen; and
the numbers that contained his articles were always in
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
great demand. Writers who possess a piercing insight
into the heart of things, and who have the courage to
express themselves, regardless of the views of others,
are well feared by men in power.
The man who knows, who can think, and who can
write, holds a sword of Damocles over every politician.
<I Governments are honeycombed with vulnerable
spots; and to secure the ready writer on your side is the
part of wisdom*
Macaulay's article on Milton proved that there was a
thinker loose, and that on occasion he could strike.
The politicians began to court him, and we find him
writing articles of a very Junius-like quality on con-
When he was twenty-six years old we are told he
was " called to the Bar,** which means that he was
given permission to practise law the expression,
" called," being a mild form of fiction that still obtains
in England in legal matters, while in America the
word applies only in theology.
The practise of law, however, was not at all to the
taste of Macaulay, and after a few short terms on the
circuit he relinquished it entirely.
In the meantime we find he read continually. Indeed,
about the only bad habit this man had was reading.
He read to excess he read everything and read all the
time. He read novels, history, poetry, and dived deeply
into the dead languages, reading Plutarch's Lives
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
twice in a year, and Euripides, Thucydides, Homer,
Cicero, Caesar all without special aim or end. Such
a restless appetite for reading is apt to produce mental
dyspepsia, and is not at all to be advised for average
people; and the probabilities are that even in Macau-
lay's case his time might often have been better spent
In Eighteen Hundred Twenty-seven appeared in the
" Review " the " Essay on Mill.'* Like all of Macaulay's
articles it reveals a wealth of learning and bristles with
information on many themes. It often seems as if
Macaulay took a subject simply to execute a learned
war-dance around it. The article on Mill is a good
example of merely touching the central theme and then
going off into by-lanes of economics, history and civil
government, with endless allusions to literature, poetry*
art and philosophy. It is all intensely interesting, closely
woven, often gorgeous in its coloring; and " style " nms
like a thread of gold through it all.
Shortly after this article appeared, Lord Lansdowne
intimated to the young writer that he would like the
honor of introducing him into public life, and if agree-
able he could arrange for him to stand for Parliament
in the vacant seat of Calne.
Calne was one of those vest-pocket boroughs, owned
by a single man, of which England has so many. The
people think they choose their represetative, but
they do not, any more than we do in America. The
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
government by the Boss and for the Boss is no new
institution. Macaulay presented himself and was elected
without opposition. And so before his thirtieth year he
found himself on the flood-tide of national politics 33
Fifteen years before, if any one had expressed himself
as plainly as Macaulay did on entering Parliament,
he would have had a taste of jail, the hulks, or the
pillory. So alert had the Government agents been for
sedition that to stick one's tongue in his cheek at a
member of the Cabinet was considered fully as bad as
poaching, both being heinous oflfenses before God and
man. Persecution was in the air and tyranny stalked
abroad 53 33
But tyranny is self -limiting. If laws are too severe,
there will surely come a time when they will not be
observed, and history shows that the men who have
introduced the guillotine ended their careers in its
embrace 33 33
A change had come in England. The Tories were being
jostled from their seats, and the Whigs were just com-
ing into power. Liberalism was abroad in the land, and
surely the time had come when a strong man might
speak his mind.
Macaulay was by nature a protester; he was *' agin
*em"; and when he chose a subject for his maiden
speech he was not only sincere, but exceeding politic.
He guessed the lay of the land, and knew the direction
of the wind. Heresy was popular*
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
His address was in favor of an act removing the legal
disabilities of Jews. It was a plea for liberty, and such
was the vigor, power and vivid personality he threw
into the address that he astonished the House and
brought in the loungers from the cloakrooms.
It was his only speech during the session. Efforts
were made to get him on his feet again, but he was
too wise to lend the battery of his mind to any com-
monplace theme. Only a subject such as might stir
men's souls could tempt him.
Wise Thomas Macaulay!
He had made a reputation as a writer by his first arti-
cle, and after his maiden speech all London chanted his
praises as an orator. He practised self-restraint and
knew better than to dilute his fame by holding argu-
ment with small men on little topics.
His first speech at the next session of Parliament only
served to fix his place as an orator more firmly. The
immediate excuse was the "Reform Bill**; but the
subject was liberty, and literature and history ware
called upon to furnish fire and supply the fuel for
pyrotechnics. After its delivery the Speaker sent for
Macaulay and personally congratulated him on making
the most effective address to which he had listened
for twenty-five years. The House of Commons, ever
willing and anxious to appropriate a genius, being
glutted by the dull and commonplace, sought in many
ways from this time forward to do honor to Macaulay*
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
The elder members grew reminiscent and said the
good old times were coming back, and talked of Burke,
Fox, Canning and Lord Plunket.
Jeffrey, feeling a sense of guardianship over Macaulay,
having launched him, as he rightfully claimed, was
on hand to hear the speech, and made haste to embrace
his ward, kissing him on both cheeks.
Judging from this distance, there was nothing espe-
cially peculiar or distinctive about Macaulay's oratory,
save his intense personality and vivid earnestness.
An educated man, thoroughly alive on any one theme,
is always interesting. And it was Macaulay's policy
never to speak in public on a theme that did not bring
out his entire armament, and yet with it all he was
wise enough to cultivate a feeling of restraint and
leave the impression that he had much more in reserve.
So it was in his literary work: he never wrote when
tired, nor attempted to express when he was not
thoroughly alive to the subject in hand. He watched
his mood. And thus in all Macaulay's " Essays " we
feel the systole and diastole, and the hot, strong,
impatient movement of ruddy life. There is " go " in
every sentence. This is what constitutes his marvelous
style life, life, life!
To very few men, indeed, is it given to be at once a
brilliant talker, a strong writer and an effective orator.
Clever talkers are seldom orators, and the great writers
usually ebulliate only in the silence of their studies*
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
The fame of Macaulay went abroad, and he l>ecame
the social lion of London he was courted, feted,
petted and in drawing-rooms when he attended,
people stood on tiptoe to catch a glimpse of him, and
remained breathless that they might hear him speak.
No doubt the fact that he was a bachelor helped fan
the social flame. His sister has recorded that every
morning cards and letters of invitation were piled high
on his breakfast-table.
With it all, though, the handsome little man preserved
his poise, and his modesty and becoming dignity in
public never failed him.
Such was Macaulay 's popularity that, after having
served two terms for the borough of Calne, the way
was opened for him to stand for Leeds. Indeed, it is
probable that a dozen districts would have been glad
to elect him as their representative.
After the passing of the " Reform Bill," to which his
efforts had been so valuable, he was appointed one of
the Commissioners of the Board of Control. This
Board represented the King in the Government's rela-
tions with the East India Company. Macaulay, being
the strongest man on the Board, was naturally chosen
its secretary, just as the best man in a jury is chosen
foreman. Here was a man who was not content to be
a mere figurehead in office, trusting to paid clerks and
underlings to secure him information and do the work
not he. Macattlay set himself the task of thoroughly
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
acquainting himself with Indian affairs. He read every
book of importance bearing on the subject; and studied
the record and history of every man of consequence
who was or had been connected with India. His intensely
practical, businesslike mind sifted every detail, intui-
tively separating the relevant from the inconsequential,
so that within a few months older heads were going to
him for information, just as in a store or shop there is
always one man who knows where things are, and in
times of doubt he is the man who is sought out. To the
many it is so much easier to ask some one else than to
find out for themselves; and it also shifts the responsi-
bility, and gives one a chance, if necessary, to prove a
halibi goodness gracious!
One feature of the Reform Bill provided that one of
the members of the Supreme Council of India should
be chosen from among persons not connected in any
way with the East India Company.
This membership of the Supreme Council was a most
important office, and carried with it the modest salary
of ten thousand pounds a year fifty thousand dollars
double what the President of the United States then
received 33 33
Macaulay had had no hand in creating this office, and
indeed, at the time the Reform Bill was being gotten
into shape, his interest in Indian affairs had only been
easual. But now he was recognized as the one man for
the new office, and the office sought the man.
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
Comparatively, Macaulay was a poor man, and the
acceptance of the office for the term of six years would
place him for the rest of his life beyond the reach of
want. He could live royally and retire at forty years of
age, with at least thirty thousand pounds to his credit*
And yet he hesitated about accepting the office. His
far-reaching eye told him that an exile for six years
from England would place him out of touch with things
at home, and that the greater office to which he aspired
would be beyond his grasp. Besides that, the fact would
always be brought up that his reward for well-doing had
been enough, just as we have an unwritten law in
America that there shall be no " third term/*
Macaulay saw all this and hesitated.
He advised with Lord Lansdowne, and with his sister
Hannah, his nearest and best friend; and if it had been
possible his mother would have been given the casting
vote; but two years before, she had passed out, yet not
until she realized that her son was one of the foremost
men in England. Hannah Macaulay (named in honor
of Hannah More) advised the acceptance of the office,
and upon his earnest request agreed to share hex
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
ANNAH MACAULAY, gracious in every
way, was the sister of her brother. Her mind
was fit companion for his, and whenever he
had a difficult problem on hand he would
clarify it by explaining it to her; and be it known, you
can never talk well to a dullard.
And so Hannah the loyal resigned her position as gov-
erness, and brother and sister packed up and sailed
away in the good ship "Asia " for India. Among their
belongings was a modest library of three thousand
volumes, all of which, a wit ha3 said, were read twice
through by Macaulay on the outward voyage. India was
safely reached, and Macaulay set himself with his
accustomed vigor to learning the language and inform-
ing himself as to the actual status of things, in order
that he might provide for their betterment. On account
of his grasp on legal matters he was elected Legal
Adviser of the Supreme Council.
Everything went well for a year, and then a terrible
calamity overtook Macaulay.
His sister was in love.
This seems a good place to explain that Thomas Bab-
ington Macaulay himself was never in love. He had no
time for that his days were too full of books and
practical business to ever waste any time on soft
sentiment 33 33
But now he was confronted by a condition, not a theory:
Lord Trevelyan was in love with his sister, and his
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
sister was In love with Lord Trevelyan. Macaulay
might have discovered the fact for himself and saved
the lovers the embarrassment of making a confession,
had he not been so terribly busy with his books, but
Macaulay, like love, was blind to some things.
He heard the confession, and wept.
Then he gave the pair his blessing there was nothing
else to do.
It was not long after the wedding that he discovered
he had found a brother instead of having lost a sister;
and the sister being very happy, Macaulay was happy,
too. He insisted that they move their effects into his
house, and they did so, all living as one happy family.
So the years passed; and when children came Macau-
lay's joy was complete. His heart went out to his sister's
children as though they were his own. Occasionally
the good mother complained that the Legal Adviser
of the Supreme Council undid her discipline by indulg-
ing the youngsters in things that she had forbidden.
To all of which the Legal Adviser would only laugh,
and crawling under the settle would emit many tiger-
ish growls, and the children would scream with terror
and delight, and other children, brown-legged, wear-
ing no clothes to speak of, would come trooping in,
and together they would manage, after an awful strug-
gle, to capture the tiger, and with some in front and
others behind and two or three on his back, would
carry him away captive.
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
One of these children, grown to manhood, Sir George
Trevelyan, was destined to write, with the help of his
mother, the best life of Macaulay that has ever been
written S& S&
The exile did not prove quite so severe as was antici-
pated; but when in Eighteen Hundred Thirty-eight it
was necessary for Lord Trevelyan to return to England,
Macaulay, sick at the thought of being left behind,
resigned his office and sailed back with the family S&
We are told that officeholders seldom die and never
resign. This may be true in the main; but surely there
can not be found another instance in history of a man.
throwing up an office with a fifty-thousand-dollar salary
attachment, simply because he could not bear the
thought of being separated from his sister's children 3&
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
OON after his return to England Macaulay
was elected to a seat in Parliament from
Edinburgh, a city that he had scarcely so
much as visited, but to whose interest he had
been loyal in that, up to this time, nine-tenths of all he
had written had been printed there.
To represent Edinburgh in the House of Commons was
no small matter, and we know that Macaulay was not
unmindful of the honor.
His next preferment was his appointment as Secretary
of War, and a seat in the Cabinet.
During all these busy years he ever had on hand some
piece of literary work. In fact, all of the " Essays " on
which his literary fame so largely rests, were composed
on *' stolen time " in the lull seized from the official and
social whirl in which he lived.
If you want a piece of work well and thoroughly done,
pick a busy man. The main of leisure postpones and pro-
crastinates, and is ever making preparations and
" getting things in shape "; but the ability to focus on
a thing and do it is the talent of the man seemingly
overwhelmed with work. Women in point lace and
diamonds, club habitues and " remittance men "
those with aU the time there is can never be entrusted
to carry the message to Gomez.
Pin your faith to the busy person*
Macaulay *s first and only political rebuff came with
his defeat the second time he stood for election in
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
Edinburgh. His conscientious opposition to a measure
in which the Scottish people were especially interested
caused the tide to turn against him.
No doubt, though, the failure of re-election was a good
thing for Macaulay and for the world. He at once
began serious work on his " History of England "
that project which had been in his head and heart for a
score of years. All of his literary labors so far had been
merely ephemeral at least he so regarded them. The
Essays he regarded only as so many newspaper articles,
not worth the collecting. It was America that first
guessed their true value as literature, and it was not
until the American editions were pouring into England
that Macaulay allowed his scattered work to be col-
lected, corrected and put into authorized book form 33
This history was to be the thesis that would admit his
name to the Roster of Fame. But, alas, the history
was destined to be only a fragment. It covers scarce
fifteen years, and is like that other splendid fragment,
the work of Henry Thomas Buckle, a preface; Buckle's
preface is the greatest ever penned, with its author
dead at forty. The projected work of both of these men
was too great for any one man to accomplish in a single
lifetime. A hundred years of unremitting toil could
not have completed Macaulay's task.
In Eighteen Hundred Forty-nine he was elected Lord
Rector of the University of Glasgow; and at his speech
of installation he took occasion to take formal leave of
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
political life. He would devote the remainder of his days
to literature and abstract thought.
Men are continually " retiring " from business and
active life, all unaware of the grim humor of the pro-
ceedings. It was not so very long before Edinburgh,
in an endeavor to undo the slight she had put upon
Macaulay, again elected him to Parliament, without
his being near, or raising his hand either for or against
And again his voice wets heard in the House of Commons.
<f Macaulay was a modest man, and yet he knew his
power 33 3S
The Premiership dangled just beyond his reach. Many
claim that if he had not gone to India he would have
moved by strong, steady strides straight to the highest
office that England could bestow. And others aver that
when he was created a Peer in Eighteen Hundred
Fifty-seven it was a move toward the Premiership, and
that if his health had not failed he would surely have
won the goal. But how futile it is to speculate on what
might have happened had not this or the other occurred!
<f Yet certainly the daring caution of Macaulay's mind,
his dignity and luring presence, his patience, self-
command, good temper, and all those manifold graces
of his heart, would have made him an almost ideal
Premier, one who might rank with Palmerston, Fed,
Disraeli or Gladstone.
But the highest office was not for him*
THOMAS B. MACAULAY
We die by heart-beats; and Macaulay at fifty-nine had
lived as much as most strong men do if they exist a
It is easy to show where Lord Macaulay could have
been greater. His life lies open to us as the ether. We
complain because he did not read less and meditate
more; we sigh at his lack of religion and mention the
fact that he never loved a woman, seemingly waiving
tautology and the fact that men who do not love are
We forget that it takes a good many men to make the
If Macaulay had been different he would have been
some one else. He was a brave, tender-hearted man
who lived one day at a time, packing the moments
with good-cheer, good work and an earnest wish to do
better tomorrow than he had done today. That Nature
occasionally produces such a man should be a cause for
gratitude in the hearts of all the rest of us little folk
who jig, mince, mouth, amble, run, peek about and
criticize our betters*
I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs;
A palace and a prison on each hand:
I saw from out the wave her structures rise
As from the stroke of the enchanter's wand:
A thousand years, their cloudy wings expand
Around me, and a dying Glory smiles
O'er the far times, when many a subject land
Look'd to the winged Lion's marble piles,
Where Venice sate in state, throned on her
hundred isles 1
AN! I wonder what a man really is!
Starting from a single cell, this
seized upon by another, and out of
the Eternal comes a particle of the
Divine Energy that makes these
cells its home. Growth follows, cell
is added to cell, and there develops
a man a man whose body, two-
thirds water, can be emptied by a single dagger-thrust
and the spirit given back to its Maker.
This being, which we call man, does not last long.
Fifty-seven generations have come and gone since
Caesar trod the Roman Forum. The pillars against
which he often leaned still stand, the thresholds over
which he passed are there, the pavements ring beneath
your tread as they once rang beneath his, Three gener-
ations and more have come and gone since Napoleon
trod the streets of Toulon contemplating suicide.
Babes in arms were carried by fond mothers to see
Lincoln, the candidate for President. These babes have
grown into men, are grandfathers possibly, with
whitened hair, furrowed faces, looking calmly forward
to the end, having tasted all that life holds in store for
them 53 53
And yet Lincoln lived but yesterday! You can reach
back into the past and grasp his hand, and look into
his sad and weary eyes, f A man! weighted with the
sins of his parents, grandparents, great-grandparents,
who fade off into dim spectral shapes in the dark and
dreamlike past; no word of choice has he in the selection
of his father and mother, no voice in the choosing
of environment brought into life without his consent
and thrust out of it against his will battling, striving,
hoping, cursing, waiting, loving, praying; burned by
fever, torn by passion, checked by fear, reaching for
friendship, longing for sympathy, clutching nothing.
]OCTORS and priests attend us at both ends
of the route. We can not^be born, neither can
we die, without consulting the tax-collector,
and interviewing those who look after us for a
consideration 33 33
The doctor who sought to assist George Gordon Byron
into the world dislocated the bones of his left foot in the
operation. Forsooth, this baby would not be born as
others he selected a way of his own and paid the
penalty. " It is a malformation take these powders
I '11 be back tomorrow/* quoth the busy doctor*
The autopsy proved it was not a malformation, but a
" Doctor, now please tell me just what is the matter
with me/* once asked an anxious patient.
"Tut, tut!" replied the absent-minded physician;
" can't you wait? The post-mortem will reveal all that/*
The critics did not wait for Byron's death it was vivi-
section. And after his death the dissection was zealously
continued. Byron's life lies open to us in many books.
Scarcely a month in the entire life of the man is unao
counted for, and if a hiatus of a few weeks is found,
the men of imagination fill in and make him a pirate
on the Mediterranean coast, or give him a seraglio in
some gloomy old Moorish palace in Venice*
In his lifetime Byron was overpraised and overcensuredL
and since his death the dust has been allowed to gather
over his matchless books. Between the two extremes
lies the truth; and the true Byron is just now being
discovered. Byron in literature will not die. He is the
brightest comet that has darted into our ken since
Shakespeare's time; and as comets have no orbit, but
are vagrants of the heavens, so was he. Tragedy was in
his train, and his destiny was disgrace and death.
And yet as we review the life of this man, " the lame
brat '* of his mother, as this mother called him, and
behold the whirlwind of passion that swept him on,
the fulsome praise, the shrill outcry of hypocritical
prudes and pedants, the torrent of abuse, and the piling
up of sins that he never committed (and God knows he
committed enough!); and yet behold his craving for
tenderness, the reaching out for truth, and hear his
earnest and unquenchable prayer to be understood and
loved, we blot out the record of his sins with our tears.
To know the life of Byron and not be moved to pro-
foundest pity marks one as alien to his kind.
" God is on the side of the most sensitive/' said Thoreau.
And did there ever tread the earth a man more sensitive
than Byron? such capacity for suffering, such exalta-
tion, such heights, such depths! Music made him
tremble and weep, and in the presence of kindness he
was powerless. He lived life to its fullest, and paid the
penalty with shortened years. He expressed himself
without reserve being emancipated from superstition
and precedent. And the man who is not dominated by
the fetish of custom is marked for contumely by the
many. Custom makes law, and tKe one who violates
custom is " bad/' Yet all respectable people are not
good; and all g6od people are not respectable. If you do
not know this you are ignorant of life.
So imagine this handsome, headstrong, restless young
man, in whose lexicon there was no such word as pru-
dence, with time and money at his command, defying
the state, society and religion, and listen to the anath-
emas that fill the air at mention of his name.
That a world full of such men would not be at all
desirable is stern truth ; but that one such man lived is
a cause for congratulation. His life holds for us both
warning and example.
Beneath the strain of the stuff and the onward swirl
of his verse we see that this man stood for truth and
justice as against hypocrisy and oppression. Folly and
freedom are better far than smugness and persecution.
Byron stood for the rights of the individual, for the
right of free speech and free thought: and he stood for
political and physical freedom, long before abolition
societies became popular. He sided with the people;
his heart went out to the oppressed; and all of his
fruitless gropings and stumblings were a reaching out
for tenderness and truth, for life and love for the IdeaL
HE father of Byron, the poet, was a captain
in the army a man of small mental ability,
whose recklessness won him the sobriquet of
" Mad Jack Byron." When twenty-three
years of age he eloped to France with the Baroness
Conyers, wife of the Marquis of Carmarthen. Happi-
ness, in a foreign country, for a woman who has
exchanged one love for another is outside the pale of
possibilities. Love is much but love is not all. Life is
too short to break family-ties and adjust one's self to a
new language and a new country. The change means
death 33 35
Two years and the woman died, leaving a daughter,
Augusta by name, afterward Mrs. Augusta Leigh S&
Back to England went Mad Jack Byron, broken-
hearted, bearing in his arms the baby girl. Kind kins-
men, ready to forgive, cared for the child. Mad Jack
did n't remain broken-hearted long what would you
expect from a man ? He sought sympathy among several
discreet dames, and in two years we find him safely and
legally married to Catherine Gordon, Scotch, and heir-
ess to twenty-five thousand pounds. On the occasion of
the wedding, Jack informed a friend that the fact of the
lady's being Scotch was forgiven in view of the dowry.
Most of this fortune went into a rat-hole to help pay
the debts of the Mad Jack.
One child was born to this ill-assorted pair a boy
who was destined to write his name large on history's
page. But such a pedigree! No wonder the youth once
wrote to Augusta, his half-sister, expressing a covetous
appreciation of her parentage, even with its bar sinis-
ter. In passing, it is well to note the sunshine of this
love of brother and sister, which continued during life
confidential, earnest, tender, frank. In their best moods
they were both lofty souls, and their mutuality was
cemented in a contempt for the man who was their
sire. This fine brotherly and sisterly affection comes
close to us when we remember that it was our own
Harriet Beecher Stowe, with sympathies worn to the
quick through much brooding over the wrongs of a race
in bondage, who rushed into print with a scandalous
accusation concerning this same sweet affection of
brother for sister. The charge was brought on no better
foundation than some old-woman gossip held over the
hyson when it was red, and moved itself aright all
vouchsafed to Mrs. Stowe by the widow of Byron in
Eighteen Hundred Fifty-six. If a woman as good at
heart as Harriet Beecher Stowe was deceived, why
should we blame humanity for biting at a hook that is
No sane dentist will administer an anesthetic to a
woman, without a witness: not that women as a class
are dangerous, but because some women can not be
trusted to distinguish between their dreams and the
facts. Every practising lawyer of insight also knows
that a wronged woman's reasons are plentiful as
blackberries, and must always be taken with large
pinches of the Syracuse product.
Mad Jack followed his regiment here and there, dodging
his creditors, and finally in Seventeen Hundred Ninety-
one induced his wife to borrow a hundred pounds for
him, with which he started to Paris intent on retrieving
fortune with pasteboard.
He died on the way, and the money was used to bury
him. The lame boy was then three years old, but a few
dark memories, no doubt retouched by hearsay, were
retained by him of Mad Jack, who in his most sober
moments never guessed that he would be known to the
ages as the father of the greatest poet of his time.
Mad Jack was neither literary nor psychic.
The widowed mother remained at Aberdeen with her
boy, living on the hundred and fifty pounds a year that
had been settled on her in a way that she could not
squander the principal all the rest had gone.
The child was shy, sensitive, proud and headstrong.
<I The mother used to reprove him by throwing things
at him, and by chasing him with the tongs. At other
times she diverted herself by imitating his limp. And
yet again she would smother him with caresses, beseech
his pardon for abusing him, and praise the beauty of
his matchless eyes.
Children are usually better judges of grown-ups than
grown-ups are of children. This boy at five years of
age had estimated his mother's character correctly. He
knew that she was not his steadfast friend, and that
she was unworthy of his confidence and whole heart's
love. He grew moody, secretive, wilfuL Once, being
wrongly accused and punished, he seized a knife from
the table and was about to apply it to his throat when
he was disarmed. The child longed for tenderness and
love, and being denied these, was already taking on
that proud and haughty temper which was to serve
as a mask to hide the tenderness of his nature.
We are told that seven brothers Byron fought at Edge-
hill, but when we get down to the time of Mad Jack
there was danger of the name being snuffed out entirely.
Nature is not anxious to perpetuate the idle and dis-
sipated 33 Si*
When little George Gordon was ten years old, his
mother one day ran to him, seized him in her arms,
wept and laughed, then laughed and wept, kissing him
violently, addressing him as " My Lord! "
His great-uncle, William, Lord Byron of Rochdale and
Newstead Abbey, had died, and the big-eyed, lame boy
was the nearest heir in fact, the only living male who
bore the family-name. The next day at school, when
the master called the roll and mentioned his name with
the prefix " Dominus," the lad did not reply " Adsum"
he only stood up, gazed helplessly at the teacher, and
burst into tears.
Even at this time he had given promise of the quality
of his nature, by his firm affection for Mary Duff, his
cousin. All the intensity of Ms childish nature was
centered in this young woman, several years his senior.
To call it a passion would be too much, but this child,
denied of love at home, clung to Mary Duff, to whom
he went in confession with all his childish tales of woe.
When his mother proposed to leave Aberdeen, now
that fortune had smiled, the anguish of the boy at
thought of leaving his " first love " nearly caused him
a fit of sickness.
And all this wealth of love was met with jeers and
loud laughter, save by Mary Duff. The vibrating sensi-
tiveness of such a child, with such a mother, must have
caused a misery we can only guess.
" Your mother is a fool/' said a boy to Byron at college
some years later.
" I know it," was the melancholy answer, as the brown
eyes filled with tears.
When money came, Mrs. Byron's first move was to
take the lad to Nottingham and place him in charge of
a surgical quack, who proposed, for a price, to make
the lame foot just as good as the other, if not better.
To this effect wooden clamps were placed on the foot
and screwed down by thumbscrews, causing a torture
that would have been unbearable to many.
No benefit was experienced from the treatment,
although it was continued by another physician at
London soon after. A schoolfellow of Byron's visited
fcim in his room when his foot was encased in a wooden
compress. The visitor noted the white face, and tke
beads of anguish on the boy's forehead, and at last said,
** I know you are suffering awfully! "
" You will never hear me say so," was the grim reply.
<f The emphasis placed on Byron's lameness has been
altogether overdone. In fact, as he grew to manhood,
it was nothing more than a stiffness that would never
have been noticed in a drawing-room. We have this
on the testimony of the Countess Guiccioli, Lady
Blessington and others. Byron himself made the mis-
take of referring to it several times in his verse, and
doubtless all the torture he had suffered through ill-
considered medical counsel, and his mothers taunts,
caused the matter to take a place in his sensitive mind
quite out of its due proportion. Sir Walter Scott was
lame, too, but whoever heard of his discussing it, either
by word of mouth or in print?
Of Byron's life at Harrow we have many tales as to
his defending his juniors, volunteering to take punish-
ment for them and of lessons unlearned. He could
not be driven nor forced, and pedagogics a hundred
years ago, it seemed, was largely a science of coercion.
Mary Gray, a nurse and early teacher of Byron's, has
told us that kindness was the unfailing touchstone with
this boy; no other plan would work. But Harrow knew
nothing of Froebel methods, and does not yet.
JYRON'S first genuine love-affair occurred
when lie was sixteen. The object of this
affection, as all the world knows, was Miss
Chaworth, whose estate adjoined Newstead.
The lady was two years older than Byron, and being of
a lively nature found a pleasant diversion in leading the
youth a merry chase. So severe was his attack that he
was alternately oppressed by chills of fear and fevers of
ecstasy. He lost appetite, and the family began to fear
for his sanity. Such a love must find expression some
way, and so the daily stealthy notes to the young woman
took the form of rhyme. The lovesick youth was
revealing considerable facility in this way. It pleased
him, and did the buxom young woman no harm.
Beyond the mere prettiness and pinky whiteness of a
healthy country lass. Miss Chaworth evidently had no
beauties of character, save those conjured forth from
the inner consciousness of the poet a not wholly
Byron loved the Ideal. And this love-affair with Miss
Chaworth is only valuable as showing the evolution of
imagination in the poet. The woman had n't the slight-
est idea that she was giving wings to a soul to her
the affair was simply funny.
The fact that Byron's great-uncle, from whom he had
inherited his title, had killed the grandfather of Miss
Chaworth in a duel, lent a romantic tinge to the matter
the boy was doing a sort of penance, and in one of
his poems hints at the undoing of the sin of his kins-
man by the lifelong devotion that he will bestow. This
calling up the past, and incautious revealing of the
fact that the ancestor Chaworth could not hold his
own with a Byron, but allowed himself to be run through
the body by the Byron cold steel, was not pleasing to
" Don't imagine I am such a fool as to love that lame
boy/' cried Miss Chaworth to her maid one day 33
Unluckily, " the lame boy " was in the next room and
heard the remark.
He rushed from the house with a something gripping
at his heart. Straightway he would go back to Harrow,
which he had left in wrath only a few months before.
So he went to Harrow.
When he next returned home, his mother met him
with the remark, " I have news for you; get out your
handkerchief Miss Chaworth is married/'
In just another year Byron was home again, and was
invited to dine with the Chaworths. He accepted the
invitation, and when he was introduced to a baby girl,
a month old, the child of his old sweetheart, his emo-
tions got the better of him and he had to leave the
room. And to ease his woe he indited a poem to the
baby 33 33
Miss Chaworth was not happy with her fox-hunting
squire. Her mind became clouded, and after some years
she passed out, in poverty and alone. And if there ever
came to Her mind any appreciation of the greatness of
tKe man who tad given her name immortality, we do
not know it.
The years from Eighteen Hundred Five to Eighteen
Hundred Eight Byron spent at Cambridge. The arts in
which he perfected himself there were shooting, swim-
ming, fencing, drinking and gambling.
During vacations, and off and on, he lived at South-
well, a village halfway between Mansfield and Newark.
Southwell was sleepy, gossipy, dull and exerted a
wholesome restraint on our restless youth. It was simply
a question of economy that took Byron and his mother
to Southwell. The run-down estate of Newstead wets
yielding a meager income, but at Southwell one could
be shabby and yet respectable.
At Southwell Byron met John Pigot and his sister
educated, cultured people of a refined and quiet sort.
Byron took to them at once, and they liked him.
In a country town the person who thinks, instinctively
hunts out the other man who thinks granting the
somewhat daring hypothesis that there are two of them.
So Byron and the Pigots often met for walks and talks,
and on such occasions the poet would read to his friends
the scraps of verse he had written. He had gotten into
the habit he wrote whenever his pulse ran up above
eighty he wrote because he could not help it; and he
read his productions to his friends for the same reason.
Every one who writes longs to read his work to some
sympathetic souL A thought is not CHIPS until we repeat
it to another, and this crying need of expression marks
every poetic soul. All art is born of feeling, high,
intense, holy feeling, and the creative faculty is largely
a matter of temperature. We feel, and not to impart
our feelings is stagnation death. People who do not
feel deeply never have anything to impart, either to
individuals or to the world. They have no message.
The young man, fresh from the dusty, musty lectures
of Cambridge, and out of the reach of his boisterous
and carousing companions, grasped at the gentle,
refined and sympathetic friendship of this brother and
sister. The trinity would walk off across the fields and
recline on the soft turf under a great spreading tree,
reading aloud by turn from some good book. Such
meetings always ended by Byron's reading to his friends
any chance rhymes he had written since they last met,
<| John Morley dates the birth of Byron's poetic genius
from his meeting with Miss Chaworth, while Taine
names Southwell as the pivotal point. Probably both
But this we know, that it was the Pigots who induce^
Byron to collect his rhymes and have them printed^
This was done at the neighboring town of Newark,
whoa Byron was nineteen years old* Possibly you have
a few of these thin, poorly printed, crudely bound little
books entitled " Juvenilia " around in die garret some-
where, and, if so, it might be well enough to taka
care of them. Quaritch says they are worth a hundred
pounds apiece, although in the poet's lifetime they
were dear at sixpence.
Byron sent copies to all the leading literary men whom
he knew, including Mackenzie, the man of feeling.
Mackenzie replied, praising the work, and so did several
others. All writers of note are favored with many such
juvenilia, and usually there is a gracious electrotype
reply. A doubt exists as to whether Mackenzie ever read
Byron's book, but we know that his letter of stock
platitude fired Byron to do still better. It is said that no
flattery is too fulsome for a pretty woman she inwardly
congratulates the man on his subtle insight in discover-
ing excellences that she hardly knew existed. This may
be so and may not, but the logic holds when applied
to fledgling authors. When it comes to praise he is quite
willing to take your word for it.
Byron's spirits arose to an ecstacy he would be a poet.
fl About this time we find Hydra, as Byron pleasantly
called his mother, rushing to the village apothecary
and warning that worthy not to sell poison to the poet;
and a few moments after her leaving, the astonished
apothecary was visited by the poet, who begged that
no poison should be sold to his mother. Each thought
the other was going to turn Lucretia Borgia, or play
the last act of Romeo and Juliet, at least.
There were wild bursts of rage on the mother's part,
stubborn mockery on the other, followed up once by a
poker flung with almost fatal precision at the poet's
Upon this he took flight to London and Hydra followed,
repentant and lacrimose, A truce was patched up; they
agreed to disagree, and coldly shaking hands withdrew
in opposite directions.
After this, when the poet wrote he addressed his
mother as " Dear Madam,' f and confined himself to
business matters. Only rarely was there any flash in
his letters, as when he said, " Dear Mother you know
you are a vixen, but save me some champagne/' If
Byron's mother had been of the stuff of which most
mothers are made, we would have found these two
safely settled at Newstead, making the best of their
battered fortune, with the son in time marrying some
neighbor lass, and slipping into the place of a respect-
able English gentleman, a worthy member of the House
But the boy, now grown twenty, had no home, and
either was supplied too much money or else too little.
He wasted his substance in London, economized in
Southwell, sponged on friends, and borrowed of Scrope
Davis at Cambridge. When a remittance again came,
he explored the greenrooms, took lessons from Professor
Johnson, the pugilist (referred to as my corporeal
pastor "), drank whole companies under the table,
bought a tame bear and a wolf to guard the entrance
of Newstead, and roamed the country as a gipsy, in
company with a girl dressed in boy's clothes, thus
supplying Richard Le Gallienne an interesting chapter
in his ** Quest of the Golden Girl/*
But all this time his brain was active, and another
book of poetry had been printed, entitled " Hours of
Idleness/* This book was gotten out, at his own expense,
by the same country printer as the first.
Surely the verse must have had merit, or why should
Lord Brougham, in the great " Edinburgh Review," go
after it with a slashing, crashing, damning criticism? 38
When Byron read the review, a bystander has told us
he turned red, then livid green. He straightway ordered
and drank two bottles of claret, said nothing, but looked
like a man who had sent a challenge.
A challenge! that was exactly what Byron proposed*
He would fight Jeffrey first, and then take up in turn
every man who had ever contributed to the magazine
he would kill them all. And to that end he called for
his pistols and went out to practise firing at ten paces.
Wiser counsel prevailed, and he decided to attack the
enemy in their own citadel, and with their own weapons.
He ordered ink, and began " English Bards and Scotch
Reviewers/' 33 $
It took time to get this enormous siege-gun into posi-
tion and find the range. Finally, it was loaded with
more kinds of missiles, in the way of what Augustine
Birrell has called literary stinkpots, than were ever
before rammed home in a single charge S& It was an
audacious move to reverse the initiative and go after
a whole race of critics, scribblers and reviewers, who
had been badgering honest folks, and blow *em into
But at the last moment Byron's heart failed him, his
wrath gave way to caution, and " English Bards and
Scotch Reviewers " appeared anonymously.
The edition was soon exhausted the shot had at least
raised a mighty dust.
The author got his nerve back, fathered the book,
made corrections; and this edition, too, sold with a
rush. Byron returned to Newstead, invited a score of
his Cambridge cronies, who came down, entering the
mansion between the bear and the wolf, and were
received with salvos of pistol-shots. Here they played
games over the spacious grounds, wrestled, boxed,
swam, and at night feasted and drank deep damnation.
out of a skull to all Scotch reviewers.
Probably the acme of this depravity was reached when
the young gentlemen began shooting the pendants off
the chandelier; then the servants hastily decamped
and left the rogues to do their own cooking.
This brought them to their senses, sanity came back*
and the company disbanded. Then the servants, who
had watched the orgies from afar, returned and found a
week's pile of dishes unwashed and a horse stabled in
HEN Byron had reached the mature age of
twenty-one, he was formally admitted to the
House of Lords as a Peer of the realm. His
titles and pedigree were so closely scanned on
this occasion that he grew quite out of conceit with the
noble company, and was seriously thinking of launching
a dunciad in their direction. His good nature was espe-
cially ruffled by Lord Carlisle, his guardian, who refused
to stand as his legal sponsor. The chief cause of the old
Lord's prejudice against the young one lay in the fact
that the young 'un had ridiculed the old 'un's literary
pretensions 33 They were rivals in letters, with a very
beautiful, natural and mutual disdain for each other $
Lord Byron was not welcomed into the House of Lords:
he simply pushed in the door because he had a right
to. He thirsted for approbation, for distinction, for
notoriety. His sensitive soul hung upon newspaper
clippings with feverish expectations; and about all the
attention he received was in the line of being damned
by faint praise, or smothered with silence. Patriotism,
as far as England was concerned, was not a part of
When all Great Britain was execrating Napoleon, pic-
turing him as a devil with horns and hoofs, Byron
looked upon him as the world's hero.
In this frame of mind he went forth and borrowed a
goodly sum, and started cut to view the world. He was
accompanied by his friend Hobhouse, and his valet,
Fletcher, fit was a two years' trip, this jolly trio made
down along the coast of France, Spain, through the
Straits of Gibraltar, lingering in queer old cities, mous-
ing over historic spots, alternately living like princes or
vagabonds. They frolicked, drank, made love to married
women, courted maidens, fought, feasted and did all the
foolish things that sophomores usually do when they
have money and opportunity.
These months of travel supplied Byron enough in way
of suggestion to keep him writing many moons. His
active imagination seized upon everything picturesque,
peculiar, romantic, sentimental or tragic, and stored
it up in those wondrous brain-cells, to be used when the
time was ripe.
The disciples of Munchausen, who delight in showing
Byron's verse to be only biography, have found a rich
field in that two years' travel. One man really did a
brilliant thing in three volumes recounting the con-
quering march of the poet, whom he depicts as a combi-
nation of Don Juan and Rob Roy.
The probabilities are that the real facts, not illumined
by fancy, would be a tale with which to conjure sleep.
Foreign travel is hard work. It constitutes the final
test of friendship, and to make the tour of Europe
with a man and not hate him marks one or both of the
parties as seraphic in quality. The best of travel is in
looking back upon it from the dreamy quiet and rest of
home laughing at the things that once rasped your
Serves, and enjoying, through recollection, the scenes
you only glanced at wearily.
Two instances of that trip when Hobhouse threatened
to desert the party and was dared to do so, and Byron
slapped Fletcher's face and got himself well kicked in
return will suffice to show how Byron had the faculty
t>f seizing trivial incidents, and by lifting them up and
separating them from the mass, made them live as Art.
f At Athens the trio made a sudden resolve to be
respectable, and practise economy. To this end they
hired rooms of a worthy widow, who accommodated
travelers with a transient home for a moderate stipend.
This widow had three daughters: the eldest, Theresa
by name, lives in letters as the Maid of Athens, and
the glory that came to her was achieved without any
special danger to either her heart or the poet's. The
young woman, we know, assisted in the household
affairs; and probably often dusted the mantel in the
poet's room while he sat smoking with one foot on the
table, making irrelevant remarks to her about this or
that & 33
Suddenly he wrote a poem, " Maid of Athens, ere we
part, give, O give me back my heart/' * * *
With the genuine literary thrift that marked all of
Byron's career, he preserved a copy of the lines, and
some years after recast them, touched them up a bit,
included the stuff in a book and there you are.
The other incident is that of Hobhouse recording m
Ms journal the bare and barren fact that outside the
city wall in Persia they once saw two dogs gnawing a
human body* Byron saw the sight, but made no men-
tion of it at the time. He waited, the scene sealed up
in his brain-cells. Years after he wrote thus :
"And he saw the lean dogs beneath the wall,
Hold o'er the dead their carnival;
Gorging and growling o'er carcass and limb,
They were too busy to bark at him.
From a Tartar's skull they stripped the flesh,
As ye peel the fig when its fruit is fresh;
And their white tusks crunched on the whiter skull,
As it slipped through their jaws when the edge grew
And this only proves that Hobhouse was not a poet
and Byron was. The poet is uxever content to state the
mere facts; facts are only valuable as suggestions for
poetry 3& S&
Travel often excites the spirit to the point of exprefir
sion. Good travelers carry pads and pencils. Byrop
reached England with fragments of marbles, skujts,
pictures, shells, spears, guns, curios beyond count,
and many manuscripts in process.
Upon arriving on the English coast the first p$ws that
reached him was that his mother had just died. He
hastened to Newstead and reached there in tipie to
attend the funeral, but refrained frpm following the
cortege to the grave because he could not master his
emotions. Their quarrels were at last ended.
A diversion to his feelings came soon after, in the way
of a blunt letter from Tom Moore demanding if Lord
Byron was the author of " English Bards and Scotch
Reviewers/' 3$ 33
Byron replied very stiffly that he was, but he really
had intended no insult to Mr. Moore, with whom he
had not the honor of being acquainted. Furthermore,
if Mr. Moore felt himself aggrieved, why, the author
of " English Bards " was at his service to supply him
such satisfaction as he required.
The irate Irishman accepted " the apology/* a genial
reply followed, and soon the poets met at the house of
a friend, and there began that lifelong friendship, with
the result that Moore wrote Byron's "Life" and used
much needless whitewash.
While abroad Byron had gotten into shape for publica-
tion one piece of manuscript. This was " Hints From
Horace/' and the matter was placed in the hands of
Mr. Dallas, his businessman, very soon after his arrival.
Dallas read the poem and did not like it.
" Have n't you anything else? " asked Dallas.
" Oh, nothing but a few stanzas of Spenserian stuff/'
was the answer.
Dallas asked to see it, and there were placed in his
hands rough drafts of the first and second cantos of
*' Childe Harold/' This time Dallas was better suited,
and to corroborate his judgment the matter was sub-
mitted to Murray, the publisher.
Murray thought the matter had more or less merit, and
arrangements were at once made for its publication.
And so it came out, hammered into shape while in the
" Childe Harold " was an instantaneous, brilliant suc-
cess a success beyond the publisher's or author's
expectations. The book ran through seven editions in
four weeks, and Lord Byron " became famous in a
night." 53 53
London society became Byron-mad. The poet was feted,
courted, petted 53 He indulged in much innocent and
costly dissipation, and some not so innocent.
Finally all this began to pall upon him. When twenty-
six we find him making a bold stand for reform: he
would get married and live a staid, sober, respectable
life. His finances were reduced all* the money he had
made out of his books had been given away, prompted
by a foolish whim that no man should take pay for the
product of his mind.
Now he would marry and "settle down"; and to
marry a woman with an income would be no special
disadvantage. To sell one's thoughts was abhorrent to
the young man, but to marry for money was quite
another thing. Morality depends upon your point of
view 53 53
The paradox of things found expressfon when Byron
the impressionable, Byron the irresistible, sat himself
down and after chewing the end of his penholder,
wrote a letter to Miss Milbanke, with whom he was
only slightly acquainted, proposing marriage. The lady
very properly declined. To be courted with a fresh-
nibbed pen, and paper cut sonnet-size, instead of by a
Eve man, deserves rebuke. Men who propose by mail
to a woman in the next town are either insincere, self-
deceived, or else are of the sort whose pulse never goes
above sixty-five, and therefore should be avoided S3
Byron was both insincere and self-deceived. He had
grown to distrust the emotions of his heart, and so
selected a wife with his head. He chose a woman with
income, one who was strong, cool-headed, safe and
sensible. Miss Milbanke was the antithesis of his mother,
f The lady declined but that is nothing.
They were married within a year.
In another year tKe wife left her husband and went
back to her mother, carrying in her arms a girl baby,
only a few weeks old.
She never returned to her husband.
What the trouble was no one ever knew, although the
gossips named a hundred and one reasons running
from drunkenness to homicide. But Byron, the world
now knows, was no drunkard he was at times con-
vivial, but he had no fixed taste for strong drink. He
was, however, peevish, impulsive, impetuous and often
Byron, be it said to his credit, brought no recriminating
charges against his wife. He only said their differences
were inexplicable and unexplainable.
The simple facts were that they breathed a different
atmosphere their heads were in a different stratum.
His normal pulse was eighty; hers, sixty-five.
What do you think of a spiritual companionship where
the wife demands, "How much longer are you going to
follow this foolish habit of writing verses? "
They did not understand each other. Byron uttered
words that no man should voice to a woman, and his
outbursts were met with a forced calmness that was
exasperating. The lady sat down, yawned wearily, and
when there came a lull in the gentleman's verbal
pyrotechnics, she would ask him if he had anything
more to say.
One day she varied the program by packing up her
effects and leaving him.
Of course, it is easy to say that had this woman been
wise she would have stood the childish outbursts and
endured the peevish tantrums, for the sake of the
hours of tenderness and love that were sure to follow.
By right treatment he would have been on his knees,
begging forgiveness and crying it out with his head
in her lap very shortly. But all this implies a woman
of unusual power extraordinary patience. And this
woman was simply human. She left, and then in order
to justify her action she gave reasons* Our actK>f*s are
usually right, but our reasons for them seldom are 3l
Mrs. Byron made no concealment of her troubles.
Society had occasion for gossip and the occasion was
improved. Stories of Byron's cruelty and inhumanity
filled the coffeehouses and drawing-rooms; and the
hints at crimes so grave they could not even be men-
tioned gave the gossips their cue.
The press took it up, and the poet was warned by his
friends not to appear at the theater or upon the street
for fear of the indignation of the mob. The spoilt child
of London was paying the penalty of popularity. The
pendulum Kad swung too far and was now coming back.
<I Byron, hunted by creditors, hooted by enemies,
broken in health, crushed in spirit, left the country
left England, never to return alive.
When Byron trod the deck cf the good ship bound for
Ostend, and saw a strip of tossing, blue water sepa-
rating him from England, his spirits rose. He was
twenty-eight years old, and the thought that he would
yet do something and be somebody was strong in his
heart. All the old pride came back.
The idea that he would not sell the product of his
brain for hire was abandoned, and soon after arriving
in Holland he began to write letters home, making
sharp bargains with publishers.
Further than this, his attorneys, on his order, made
demand for a share of his wife's estate. And erelong
we find Byron, the wasteful, cultivating the good old
gentlemanly habit of penuriousness. He was making
money, and had he lived to be sixty it is probable he
would have evolved into a conservative and written a
book on " Getting on in the World, or Success as I
Have Found It/*
Byron's pilgrimage down through Germany, along the
Rhine to Switzerland, was one of rest and recreation.
At Berne, Basle, Lausanne and Geneva he found food
for literary thought, and many instances in his writings
show the reflected scenes he saw. No visitor at Lausanne
f ails to visit the Castle of Chillon, and all the guides will
recite you these sweeping lines, so surcharged with
" Lake Leman lies by Chillon's walls;
A thousand feet in depth below,
Its many waters meet and flow/'
At Geneva began the most interesting friendship
between Byron and that other young man, so like and
yet so unlike him.
Only a few years and Byron was to search the shores
of the Mediterranean for Shelley's dead body, and find-
ing it, be one of the friends who reduced it to ashes $
Tiring of Geneva and the tourists who pointed him out
as a curiosity, we find Byron and his little party making
their way across the Simplon, to cross which is an
epoch in the life of any man, and then down by the
Lago Maggiore to Milan 33 " The Last Supper'* of
Leonardo da Vinci did not impress Byron the art of
painting never did this was his most marked limita-
tion. From Milan they wandered down through Italy
to Verona and Venice.
The third Canto of " Childe Harold/* " Manfred," and
dozens of shorter poems had been sent to Murray.
England read and paid for all that Byron wrote, and
accepted it all as autobiography. Possibly Byron's de-
fiant manner lent an excuse for this, but by applying
similar rules we could convict Sophocles, Schiller and
Shelley of basest crimes, put Shakespeare in the dock
for murder, Milton for blasphemy, Scott for forgery, and
Goethe for questionable financial deals with the devil.
Byron's sins were as scarlet and the number not a few,
but the moths that came just to flit about the flame
were all of mature age. Byron set no snares for the
innocent, and in all of the man's misdoings, he himself
it was who suffered most.
The Countess Guiccioli, it seems, was the only woman
who comprehended his nature sufficiently to lead him
in the direction of peace and poise. With her, for the
first time, he began to systematize his life on a basis of
sanity. They lived together for five years, and'from the
time he met her until his death no other love came to
Throughout his life Byron was a man in revolt; and
it was only a variation of the old passion for freedom
that led him to Greece and to his grave. The personal
bravery of the man was proven more than once In his
life, and on the approach of death he was undismayed.
When he passed away, April Nineteenth, Eighteen
Hundred Twenty-four, Stanhope wrote, ** England has
lost her brightest genius Greece her best friend." 33
His body was returned to England, denied burial in
Westminster, and now rests in the old church at Huck-
nall, near Newstead.
Thus am I doubly armed: my death and life,
My bane and antidote, are both before me.
This in a moment brings me to an end;
But this informs me I shall never die.
The soul, secured in her existence, smiles
At the drawn dagger, and defies its point.
The stars shall fade away, the sun himself
Grow dim with age, and Nature sink in years;
But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,
Unhurt amid the war of elements,
The wreck of matter, and the crash of worlds!
Cato a Soliloquy
EN are not punished for their sins,
but by them.
Expression is necessary to life. The
spirit grows through exercise of its
faculties, just as a muscle grows
strong through use. Life is expres-
sion and repression is stagnation
death 33 S&
Yet there is right expression and wrong expression. If a
man allows his life to run riot, and only the animal side
of his nature is allowed to express itself, he is repressing
his highest and best, and therefore those qualities, not
used, atrophy and die.
Sensuality, gluttony and the life of license repress the
life of the spirit, and the soul never blossoms; and this
is what it is to lose one's soul. All adown the centuries
thinking men have noted these truths, and again and
again we find individuals forsaking, in horror, the life
of the senses and devoting themselves to the life of the
spirit 35 S&
The question of expression through the spirit or through
the senses through the soul or the body has been the
pivotal point of all philosophies and the inspiration of
all religions. Asceticism in our day finds an interesting
manifestation in the Trappists, who live on a mountain,
nearly inaccessible, and deprive themselves of almost
every vestige of bodily comfort; going without food for
days, wearing uncomfortable garments, suffering severe
cold. So here we find the extreme instance of men repress-
ing the faculties of the body in order that the spirit
may find ample time and opportunity for exercise.
Between this extreme repression and the license of the
sensualist lies the truth. But just where, is the great
question; and the desire of one person, who thinks he
has discovered the norm, to compel all other men to
stop there, has led to war and strife untold. All law
centers around this point what shall men be allowed
to do? And so we find statutes to punish '* strolling
play-actors," "players on fiddles," "disturbers of the
public conscience," " persons who dance wantonly,"
" blasphemers," etc. In England there were, in the year
Eighteen Hundred, sixty-seven offenses punishable with
death 33 33
What expression is right and what is not is largely a
matter of opinion. Instrumental music has been to some
a rock of offense, exciting the spirit, through the sense
of hearing, to wrong thoughts through " the lascivious
pleasing of a lute." Others think dancing wicked, while
a few allow square dances, but condemn the waltz.
Some sects allow pipe-organ music, but draw the line
at the violin; while others, still, employ a whole orches-
tra in their religious service. Some there may be who
regard pictures as implements of idolatry, while the
Hook-and-Eye Baptists look upon buttons as immoral*
flf Strange evolutions are often witnessed within the life
of one individual, as to what is right and what wrong.
For instance, Leo Tolstoy, that great and good man,
once a worldling, has now turned ascetic, a not unusual
evolution in the lives of the saints. Not caring for har-
mony as expressed in color, form and sounds, Tolstoy
is now quite willing to deprive all others of these things
which minister to their well-being. There is in most
souls a hunger for beauty, just as there is a physical
hunger. Beauty speaks to their spirits through the
senses; but Tolstoy would have his house barren to
the verge of hardship, and he advocates that all other
houses should be likewise. My veneration for Count
Tolstoy is profound, but I mention him here simply to
show the danger that lies in allowing any man, even
one of the best, to dictate to us what is right.
Most of the frightful cruelties inflicted on mankind
during the past have arisen out of a difference of opinion
arising through a difference in temperament. The ques-
tion is as live today as it was two thousand years ago
what expression is best? That is, what shall we do to be
saved? And concrete absurdity consists in saying we
must all do the same thing.
Whether the race will ever grow to a point where men
will be willing to leave the matter of life-expression to
the individual is a question. Most men are anxious to
do what is best for themselves and least harmful for
others. The average man now has intelligence enough I
Utopia is not far off, if the self-appointed folk who gov-
ern us for a consideration would only be willing to do
unto others as they would be done by, and cease cov-
eting things that belong to other people. War among
nations, and strife among individuals, is a result of the
covetous spirit to possess either power or things, or
both. A little more patience, a little more charity for
all, a little more devotion, a little more love; with less
bowing down to the past, a brave looking forward to
the future, with more confidence in ourselves, and more
faith in our fellows, and the race will be ripe for a
great burst of light and life.
Macaulay has said that the Puritan did not condemn
bear-baiting because it gave pain to the bear, but be-
cause it gave pleasure to the spectator. The Puritan
regarded beauty as a pitfall and a snare : that which gave
pleasure was a sin; he found his gratification in doing
without things. Puritanism was a violent oscillation of
the pendulum of life to the other side. From the vanity,
pretense, affectation and sensualism of a Church and
State bitten by corruption, we find the recoil in Puritan-
ism 53 3&
Asceticism to the verge of hardship, frankness bordering
on rudeness, and a stolidity that was impolite; or soft,
luxurious hypocrisy in a moth-eaten society which
shall it be? And Joseph Addison comes upon the scene
and by the sincerity, graciousness and gentle excellence
of his life and work, says, '* Neither! "
HE little village of Milston, Wiltshire, is noted
as the birthplace of Addison, who was the son
of a clergyman, afterward the Dean of Lich-
field. An erstwhile resident of Lichfield,
Samuel Johnson by name, once said of Joseph Addison,
" Whoever wishes to attain an English style, familiar
but not coarse, elegant but not ostentatious, must give
his days and nights to the volumes of Addison/*
For elegance, simplicity, insight, and a wit that is sharp
but which never wounds, Addison has no rival, although
more than two hundred years have come and gone since
he ceased to write.
Addison was a gentleman the best example of a per-
fect gentleman that the history of English literature
affords. And in letters it is much easier to find a genius
than a gentleman. The field today is not at all over-
worked; and those who wish to cultivate the art of
being gentlemen will find no fearsome competition.
In fact, the chief reason for not engaging in this line is
the discomfort of isolation, and the lack of comrade-
ship one is sure to suffer. To be gentle, generous, kind;
to win by few words; and to disarm criticism and
prejudice through the potency of a gracious presence,
is a fine art. Books on etiquette will not serve the
end, nor studious attempts to smile at the proper time,
nor zealous efforts to avoid jostling the whims of those
we meet; for to attempt to please is often to antagonize.
<S Sympathy, Knowledge and Poise seem the three
ingredients most needed in forming the gentle man. I
place these elements according to their value. No man
is great who does not possess Sympathy plus, and th^
greatness of men can safely be gauged by their sym*
pathies. Sympathy and imagination are twin sisters.
Your heart must go out to all men, the high, the low,
the rich, the poor, the learned, the unlearned, the good,
the bad, the wise, the foolish you must be one with
them all, else you can never comprehend them. Sym*
pathy! It is the touchstone to every secret, the key
to aU knowledge, the open sesame of all hearts. Put
yourself in the other man's place, and then you \vill
know why he thinks certain thoughts and does certain
deeds. Put yourself in his place, and your blame will
dissolve itself into pity, and your tears will wipe out
the record of his misdeeds. The saviors of the world
have simply been men with wondrous Sympathy*
But Knowledge must go with Sympathy, else the
emotions will become maudlin and pity may be wasted
on a poodle instead of a child; on a field-mouse instead
of a human soul. Knowledge in use is wisdom, and
wisdom implies a sense of values you know a big
thing from a little one, a valuable fact from a trivial
one. Tragedy and comedy are simply questions of
value: a little misfit in life makes us laugh, a great one
is tragedy and cause for grief.
Poise is the strength of body and strength of mind to
control your Sympathy and your Knowledge, Unless
you control your emotions they Tun over and you stand
in the slop. Sympathy must not run riot, or it is value-
less and tokens weakness instead of strength. In every
Hospital for nervous disorders are to be found many
instances of this loss of control. The individual has
Sympathy, tut not Poise, and therefore his life is
worthless to himself and to the world.
He symbols inefficiency, not helpfulness. Poise reveals
itself more in voice than in words; more in thought than
in action ; more in atmosphere than in conscious life. 1 1 is
a spiritual quality, and is felt more than it is seen. It is
not a matter of size, nor bodily attitude, nor attire, nor
personal comeliness: it is a state of inward being, and
of knowing your cause is just. And so you see it is a
great and profound subject after all, great in its rami-
fications, limitless in extent, implying the entire science
of right living. I once met a man who was deformed in
body and little more than a dwarf, but who had such
Spiritual Gravity such Poise that to enter a room
where he was, was to feel his presence and acknowl-
edge his superiority. To allow Sympathy to waste itself
on unworthy subjects is to deplete one's life-forces.
To conserve is the part of wisdom. No great orator
ever exerts himself to his fullest, and reserve is a nec-
essary element in all good literature, as well as in
everything else. Poise being the control of your Sym-
pathy and Knowledge implies the possession of these
attributes, for without Sympathy and Knowledge you
have nothing to control but your physical body. To
practise Poise as a mere gymnastic exercise, or a study
in etiquette, is to be self-conscious, stiff, preposterous
and ridiculous. Those who cut such fantastic tricks
before high heaven as make angels weep are men void
of Sympathy and Knowledge trying to cultivate Poise.
Their science is a mere matter of what to do with arms
and legs. Poise is a question of spirit controlling flesh,
heart controlling attitude. And so in the cultivation of
Poise it is well to begin quite aways back. Let perfect
love cast out fear; get rid of all secrets; have nothing
in your heart to conceal; be gentle, generous, kind;
do not bother to forgive your enemies it is better to
forget them, and cease conjuring them forth from your
inner consciousness. The idea that you have enemies
is egotism gone to seed. Get Knowledge by coming
close to Nature, listening to her heart-beats, studying
her ways. And let your heart go out to humanity by a
desire to serve.
That man is greatest who best serves his kind. Sym-
pathy and Knowledge are for use you acquire that you
may give out; you accumulate that you may bestow.
And as God has given you the sublime blessings of
Sympathy and Knowledge, there will come to you the
wish to reveal your gratitude by giving them out again,
for the wise man knows that we retain spiritual quali-
ties only as we give them away. Let your light shine.
To him that hath shall be given. The exercise of wisdom
brings wisdom ; and at the last the infinitesimal quantity
of man's knowledge, compared with the Infinite, and the
meagerness of man's Sympathy when compared with
the source from which ours is absorbed, will evolve an
abnegation and a humility that will lend a perfect
Poise. The Gentleman is a man with Sympathy, Knowl-
edge and Poise; and as I sit here in this quiet corner,
Joseph Addison seems to me to fit the requirements a
little better than any other name I can recall.
ORN into a family where economy was a
necessity, yet Addison had every advantage
that good breeding and thorough tutorship
At Charterhouse School he won the affection of his
teachers by his earnest wish to comply. The receptive
spirit and the desire to please were his by inheritance.
When fifteen he went to Queen's College, Oxford, where,
within a year, his beauty, good nature and intelligence
made his presence felt.
In another year he was elected a scholar at Magdalen
College, his recommendation being his skill in Latin
versification 33 33 /
It was the hope and expectation of his parents that he
should become a clergyman and follow in his father's
footsteps. This also seems to have been the bent of the
young man's mind. But the grace of his personality, his
obliging disposition, with a sort of furtive ability to
peer into a millstone as far as any, had attracted the
attention of several statesmen. One of these, Charles
Montague, afterward Lord Halifax, remarked, " I am
a friend of the Church, but I propose to do it the injury
of keeping Addison out of it."
Montague discussed the matter with Lord Somers, and
these two concluded that just a trifle more maturity of
that gently ironical mind, a little more seasoning of
the gracious personality, and the State would have in
Joseph Addison a servant of untold value.
Thus we see that England's policy of selecting and
training men for the consular and diplomatic service
is no new thing. It is a wonder that America has not
ere this profited by the example. The tradition holds
that we must at least have a scholar and a gentleman
for the Court of Saint James, and several times we have
been put to straits to find the man. The only way is to
breed them and then bring them up in the way they
But beyond the zealous desire of Montague and Lord
Somers to educate good men for the diplomatic service,
lurked the still more eager wish to secure able writers
to plead and defend the party cause. With this phase
of the question America is more familiar; the policy of
rewarding able speakers and ready writers with offices
ready made or made to order has come to us ably
backed by precedent untoldL
Addison set himself to literary tasks, but still regarded
himself as a scholar. Leisure fitted his temperament
lie was never in haste, even when he was in a hurry,
and he carried with him the air of having all the time
there was* Nothing is so ungraceful as haste. Addisoa
always had time to listen; and we make friends, not by
explaining things to other folks, but by allowing others
to explain to us.
The habit of attentive, sympathetic listening came to
Addison early in life. From his twenty-first to his
twenty^seventh year he lived a studious life idle, his
father called it writing essays, political pamphlets
and Latin verse. His political friends took care that
some of the output was purchased, so that he was
assured a comfortable living; but his success was not
sufficient to inflate his cosmos with an undue amount
of ego 33 33
One small book of criticism which he produced about
this time was entitled, "Account of the English Poets/'
A significant feature of the work is that Shakespeare
is not mentioned, even once, while Dryden is placed
as the standard of excellence, just as in " Modern Paint-
ers/' Ruskin takes Turner and lets him stand for one
hundred, and all other artists grade down from this 33
Addison merely reflected the taste of his time* Shake-
speare was not thought any more of two hundred years
ago than we think of him now, with this difference
that he is the author we now talk about and seldom
read, but then they did not discuss him any more than
we now go to see him played.
An interesting character by the name of Jacob Tonson
appears upon the scene, as a friend of Addison in his
early days. Tonson enjoyed the distinction of being the
father of the modern publishing business the first
man to bring out the works of authors at his own risk
and then sell the product to bookstores. I believe it is
Mr* Le Gallienne who has been so unkind as to speak
of ** Barabbas Tonson/' Among Tonson' s many good
strokes was his act in buying the copyright of *' Paradise
Lost** from Simmons, the bookseller, who had pur-
chased all rights in the manuscript from the bereaved
widow on a payment of eight pounds.
Tonson appreciated good things in a literary way. He
was on friendly terms with all the principal writers,
and did much in bringing some shy writers to the front.
Addison and Tonson laid great plans, few of which
materialized, and some were carried out by other people
notably the compilation of an English Dictionary.
In Sixteen Hundred Ninety-nine we find Addison, in
possession of a pension of three hundred pounds a year,
crossing the Channelinto France with the object " to
travel and qualify himself to serve His Majesty/*
The diplomatic language of the world was French.
With intent to learn the language, Addison made his
home with a modest French family; and a better way
of acquiring a language than this has never been devised.
A young friend of mine, however, recently returned
from Europe, tells me that the ideal plan is to make
love to a vivacious French girl who can not speak
English. Of the excellence of this plan I know nothing
it may be a mere barren ideality.
A little over a year in France and we are , told that
"Addison spoke the language like a native " a glib
expression, still able-bodied, that means little or much.
From France Addison followed down into Italy, and
spent a year there, residing in various small towns
with the same object in view that took him to France.
And one of his admirers relates that " he learned to
speak Italian perfectly, his pronunciation being marred
only by a slight French accent." Addison's three years
of foreign travel, and the friendly society of the highest
and best wherever he journeyed, had caused him to
blossom out into a most exceptional man. Nature had
done much for him, but her best gift was the hospitable
mind. Travel to many young men is the opportunity
to indulge in a line of conduct not possible at home.
But Addison, ripening slowly, appreciated the fact that
the Puritan has a deal of truth on his side. There is a
manly abstinence that is most becoming, and to mod-
erate one's desires and partake of the good things of
earth sparingly is the best way to garner their benefit.
No doubt, too, Addison's modesty and tendency to
shyness saved him from many a danger. " Bashfulness
is the tough husk in which genius ripens/' says Emerson^
Thus do we find our man at thirty, strong, manly,
gifted, handsome, chivalrous, proud, yet tender, sym-
pathetic, knowing ready to serve his country in what-
soever capacity he could serve it best. When lo! the
death of the King cut off his pension, a new party came
in, his influential friends were thrown out of power, and
Addison's prospects wilted in a single night*
HE fact is that Addison from his thirtieth to
his fortieth year was little better than a deni-
zen of Grub Street. Fortunately he was a
bachelor, with no one but himself to support,
else actual hardship might have entered. Several flatter-
ing offers to act as tutor or companion to rich men's
sons came his way, and were declined in polite and
gracious language; and once a suggestion that he wed a
woman of wealth was tabled in a manner not quite so
gracious. In passing, it is well to state that all of
Addison's relations with women seem to have occupied a
lofty plane of chivalry. His respect for the good name of
woman was profound, and whether any woman ever
broke through that fine reserve and exquisite formality
is a question. He was intensely admired by women, of
course, but it was from the other side of the drawing-
room. He kept gush at bay, and never tempted to
indiscretion 33 53
Addison's youth was past; he was creeping well into
the thirties, and still with no prospects. He was out
of money, with no profession, and no special reputation
as a writer. The popular poets of the time were Sedley,
Rochester, Buckingham and Dorset and you have
never heard of them? Well, it only shows how a literary
reputation is a shadow that fades in a night.
Addison had written his " Cato " several years before*
but no one had seen it. He carried the manuscript about
with him, as Goethe did his " Faust," for years, and
added to it, or erased, all according to the moods that
came to him. And we have reason to believe that the
sublime soliloquy in "Cato" was written by Addison
when the blankness of his prospects and the blackness
of the future had forced the question of self-destruction
upon him 53 53
Cato made a great mistake in committing suicide he
did the deed right on the eve of success he should
have waited. Addison waited.
At this time Lord Godolphin, who had the happiness
to have a great racehorse named after him, occupied
the chief place in the Ministry. Marlborough had just
fought the battle of Blenheim, and it was Godolphin's
wish to have the victory sung in adequate verse, for
history's sake and for the sake of the political party.
But he could not think of a poet who was equal to the
task; so in his dilemma he called in Lord Halifax, who
had a reputation for knowing good things in a literary
way 33 53
Lord Halifax was unfortunate in having his portrait
transmitted by two poets who hated him thoroughly,
each for the amply sufficient reason that he failed to
confer the favors that were much desired. Swift calls
Halifax " a would-be Maecenas "; and Pope refers to
him as " penurious, mean and chicken-hearted,*' satir-
izing him in the well-known character of Bufo.
Do not take the poets too seriously: all good men have
had mud-balls thrown at them sometimes bricks and
Halifax was not a bad man by any means. Let the poets
make copy of their thwarted hopes.
In reply to Lord Godolphin's inquiries, Halifax said Ke
did indeed know the man who could celebrate the
victory in verse, and in fact there was only one man
in England who could do the task justice. He, however,
refused to divulge his man's identity until a suitable
reward for the poet was fixed upon.
Godolphin finally thought of an office in the Excise,
worth three hundred pounds a year or more.
Halifax then stipulated that the negotiations must be
carried on directly between the Government and the
poet, otherwise the poet's pride would rebel. Godolphin
agreed to shield Halifax from all mention in the matter,
and the name and address of Joseph Addison were
then taken down.
Godolphin had never heard of Addison, but relying on
Halifax, he sent Boyle, Chancellor of the Exchequer,
to the address named, where Addison was found over
a haberdasher's, up three flights, back. The account
comes from Pope, who was the enemy of both Addison
and Halifax, and can therefore be relied upon.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer broached the subject,
was gently repulsed, the case was argued, and being
put on the plane of duty the poet surrendered, and as
a result we have Addison's poem, " The Campaign/'
It was considered a great literary feat in its day, but
like all things performed to order, comes tardy off. Only
work done in love lives. But Addison slid! into the
Excise office, taking it as legal tender. This brought
him into relationship with Godolphin* who one day
exclaimed, " I thought that man Addison was nothing
but a poet I 'm a rogue if he is n't really a great man! "
Lord Godolphin was needing a good man, a man of
address, polish, tact and education. And Addison was
selected to fill the office of Under-Secretary of State,
the place for which he had fitted himself and to which
he had aspired eight years before. Moral: Be prepared.
fThe party that called Addison was not the one to
which he was supposed to be attached, but his merits
were recognized, his help was needed, and so he was
sent for. It was a great compliment. But good men are
always needed they were then, and the demand is
greater now than ever before. The highest positions are
hard to fill good men are scarce.
Addison's knowledge, his modesty, his willingness, his
caution, his grace of manner, fitted him exactly for the
position; and we have reason to believe that the salary
of one thousand pounds a year was very acceptable to
one in his situation.
In another year the Whigs had grown stronger; Halifax
was again a recognized power; and erelong we find
Addison entering Parliament. So great was his popu-
larity that he was elected from one district six times,
representing Malmesbury until his death.
It was stated by Congreve that Addison's habit of
shyness was an affectation. If so, it was a good stroke,
for nothing is so becoming in a man known to be versa-
tile and strong as a half-embarrassment when in society.
The Duke of Wellington's awkwardness in a drawing-
room put all others at their ease. The eternal fitness
of things demands that when greatness is in evidence
some one should be embarrassed, and if the celebrity
is " it," so much the better.
Personally, I feel sure that Addison's shyness was not
feigned, for on the only occasion he ever attempted to
speak ex-tempore in Parliament he muffed the subject,
forgot his theme, and sat down in confusion. With all
his incisive thought and fine command of language,
Addison could not think on his feet. And as if aware
of his limitations, in one of the " Spectator " essays he
said, with more or less truth, " The fluent orator, ready
to speak on any topic, is never profound, and when once
his thought is cold it will seldom repay examination it
was only a skyrocket/*
ITHOUT Addison's literary reputation, rest-
ing upon his essays published in the " Tatler "
and the " Spectator/* it is very possible that
we would now know about as much concern-
ing him as we do about Sir John Hawkins. The "Tatler'*
and the " Spectator " allowed him to express his best,
and in his own way.
With the name of Addison is inseparably coupled that
of Richard Steele. These men had a literary style
which they held in partnership. The nearest approach
to it in our time is the " Easy Chair " of George William
Curtis. Curtis was once called by Lowell, with a goodly
degree of justice, f< our modern Addison."
Steele and Addison had been schoolmates at the Charter-
house, and friends for a lifetime. They were of the same
age within a year. Steele had been a soldier and an
adventurer, and his disposition was decidedly convivial.
He was a clever writer, knowing the world of politics
and society, but he lacked the spiritual and artistic
qualities which Addison's moderate and studious life
had fostered. But on simple themes, where the argu-
ment did not rise above the commonplace, Addison
and Steele wrote exactly alike, Just as all writers on
the ** Sun " used to write like Dana. Steele had filled
the lowest office in the Ministry, the office of " Gazet-
eer " : the duties of the office being to issue a newspaper
giving the official news of the day. It was a licensed
monopoly, and all infringers were severely punished.
Steele, however, did not like the office, because the
Powers demanded that all writing in the " Gazette "
be very innocent and very insipid. " To publish a news-
paper and say nothing is no easy task/' said Steele.
Had he lived in our day he could have seen the trick
performed on every hand.
Finally the office of Gazetteer was abolished, and any
man who wished might issue a " gazette/' provided
he kept within proper bounds. The result was a flight
of small leaflet periodicals, quite like the Chapbook
Renaissance of Eighteen Hundred Ninety-five and
Eighteen Hundred Ninety-six, when over eleven hun-
dred " brownie " and " chipmunk " magazines were
started in America. Every man with two or three ideas
and ten dollars' capital started a magazine. Steele,
teeming with thoughts demanding expression, at war
with smug society, and possessing wit withal, started the
" Tatler/' to be issued three times a week, price one
penny. Seizing upon a creation of Swift's, " Isaac
Bickerstaflf," a character already known to the public,
was introduced as editor. Bickerstaff announced his
assistants, and among others named as authority in
Foreign Affairs a waiter at Saint James Coffeehouse
known as " Kidney/ 5 The spirit of rollicking freedom
in the publication, with a touch of philosophy, and a
dash of culture, caught the public fancy at once. The
" Tatler " was the theme in every coffeehouse, and in
the drawing-rooms, as well- Those who understood it
laughed and passed it along to others who pretended
they understood, and so it became the fad. Then the
anonymity lent the charm of mystery who could it be
who was into all the secrets, and knew the world so
thoroughly? S3 $5
Addison read each issue with surprise and amusement,
but it was not until the fifth number that he located the
author positively, by reading an observation of his own
that he had voiced to Steele some weeks before. Steele
absorbed everything, digested it, and gave the good
out as his own, innocent and probably unmindful of
where he got it. This accounts for his wonderful ver-
satility: he made others grub and used the net result.
[ Some years ago Francis Wilson made a mock com-
plaint to the effect that whenever he met Eugene Field
in the " Saints and Sinners Corner " for a half-hour's
chat, any good thing he might voice was duly printed
next day in the " Sharps and Flats " column as Field's
very own, and thus did the genial Eugene acquire his
reputation as a genius. All of which gentle gibing con-
tains more fact than fiction.
When Addison saw his bright thoughts appearing in
the " Tatler," he went to Steele and said, " Here, I '11
write that out myself and save you the trouble." Steele
welcomed him with open arms. The first " Tatler *"
article written by Addison relates to the distress of
news-writers at the prospect of peace. This is exactly
in Steele's style; but we find erelong in the " Tatler **
a spiritual quality that was not a part of Steele' s nature.
From current gossip and easy society commonplace,
the tone is exalted, and this we know was the result
of Addison's influence. Out of two hundred seventy-one
articles in the " Tatler," one hundred eighty-eight were
produced by Steele and forty-two by Addison. Yet
Steele was wise enough to perceive the superior quality
of Addison's work, and this dictated the key in which
the magazine was pitched. Yet the fertility of Steele
surpassed that of Addison. Steele initiated the crusade
against gambling, dueling and vice; and this was all very
natural, for he simply inveighed against sins with which
experience had made him familiar. His moral essays
were all written in periods of repentance. His sharp
tirades on dueling in one instance approached the point
of personality, and on being criticized, he resented the
interference and expressed a willingness to fight his
man with pistols at ten paces. It must not be forgotten
that Richard Steele was an Irishman.
The political tone of the " Tatler " favored the Marl-
borough administration, and on this account Steele
was rewarded with a snug office under the wing of the
State. In Seventeen Hundred Ten, the Whig Ministry
fell, but Lord Harley knew the value of Steele as a
writer, and so notified him that he would not be dis-
turbed in possession of his Stamp Office.
Now, a complete silence concerning things political in
the " Tatler " was hardly possible, and a change of
front would be humiliating, and whether to give up the
" Tatler " or the office that was the question! Addison
was in the same box. The offices they held brought
them in twice as much money as the little periodical,
and either the patronage or the paper would have to
go. They decided to abandon the " Tatler,"
But the habit of writing sticks to a man; and after two
months Steele and Addison began to feel the necessity
of some outlet for their pent-up thoughts. They had
each grown with their work, and were aware of it.
They would start a new paper, and make it a daily;
and they would keep clear of politics. So we find the
" Spectator " duly launched with the intended purpose
of forming " a rational standard of conduct in morals,
manners, art and literature/*
Every good thing hats its prototype, and Addison in
Italy had become familiar with the force of c< Manners "
by Casa, and the " Courtier " by Castiglione. Then he
knew the character of La Bruyere, and this gave the
cue for the Spectator Club, with Sir Roger de Coverley,
Sir Andrew Freeport, Will Honeycomb, Captain Sentry
and the Templar.
Swift had contributed several papers to the ** Tatler,"
but he found the " Spectator " too soft and feminine
for his fancy. Probably Steele and Addison were afraid
of the doughty Dean's style; there was too much vitriol
in it for popularity and they kept the Irish parson at a
distance, as certain letters to " Stella " seem to indicate.
The " Spectator '* was a notable success from the start
and soon put Steele and Addison in comfortable
financial shape 33 After the first year the daily issue
amounted to fourteen thousand copies. Addison intro-
duced the "Answers to Correspondents " scheme.
He has had many imitators along this line, some of
whom yet endure, but they are not Addisons.
An imitation of the *' Spectator " was started as a daily
in New York in Eighteen Hundred Ninety-eight. In one
week it ran short on phosphorus and was obliged to
quit. It took two years for Steele and Addison to write
themselves out, and rather than let the quality of the
periodical decline they discontinued its publication,
quitting like the wise men they were at the height of
]HEN Addison's tragedy of " Cato " was pro-
duced in Seventeen Hundred Thirteen, he
occupied the first place in English letters. The
play was a dazzling success; and it is a great
play yet. It lives as literature among the best things
men have ever done a masterpiece!
Addison still continued in the service of the State, and
wrote more or less in a political way. The strain of
carrying on the " Spectator " and the stress of political
affairs had tired the man. The spring had gone out of his
intellect, and he began to talk of some quiet retreat in
the country. In Seventeen Hundred Sixteen, in his
forty-fourth year, he married the Countess of Warwick,
a widow of fifteen years* standing. We have reason to
believe that the worthy widow did the courting and
literally took our good man captive. He was depressed
and worn, and longed for rest and gentle, sympathetic
companionship. She promised all these the buxom
creature and married him, taking him to her home at
Holland House. Yes, it would be unjust to blame her;
doubtless she wished to do for the man what was best;
and so report has it that she exercised a discipline
over his hours of work and recreation and curtailed a
little there and issued orders here, until the poor patient
rebelled and fled to the coffeehouses. There he found
the rollicking society that he so despised and loved,
for there was comradeship in it, and comradeship was
what he prayed for. His wife did not comprehend
that delicate, spiritual quality of his heart: that craving
for sympathy which came after he had given out so
much. He wanted peace, quiet and rest; but she wished
to take him forth and exhibit him to the throng. Yet
all of her admonitions that he " brace up " were in vain*
His work was done. He foresaw the end, and grew
impatient that it did not come. Placid, resigned, sane
to the last hour, he passed away at Holland House,
June Seventeenth, Seventeen Hundred Nineteen, aged
forty-seven. His body, lying in state, was viewed by
more than ten thousand people, and then it was laid to
rest in the Poets* Corner, Westminster Abbey 55
Let no man write
Thy epitaph, Emmett; thou shalt not go
Without thy funeral strain! young and good,
And wise, though erring here, thou shalt not go
Unhonored or unsung. And better thus
Beneath that undiscriminating stroke,
Better to fall, than to have lived to mourn,
As sure thou wouldst, in misery and remorse,
Thine own disastrous triumph * * * *
How happier thus, in that heroic mood
That takes away the sting of death, to die,
By all the good and all the wise forgiven!
Yea, in all ages by the wise and good
To be remembered, mourned, and honored still!
Southey to Robert Emmett
OST generally, when I travel, I go
alone this to insure being in good
company. To travel with another
is a terrible risk: it puts a great
strain on the affections.
I once made the tour of Scotland
with a man who was traveling for
his health. He had kidney-trouble
belief. I had known the man in a casual way for several
years, and we started out the best of friends, antici-
pating a good time. We were gone three weeks, and
when we got back I hated the fellow thoroughly, and I
have every reason to believe that he fully reciprocated
And yet he was an honest man, and I am, too, although
not an extremist. There was nothing to quarrel about;
it began at Euston Station, where I bought third-class
tickets. He said he preferred to ride first-class, or
second, at least there was such a thing as false
economy 35 3&
I asked him why he had not said something along this
line before I had purchased the tickets.
He retorted that I had not consulted his preference in
the matter. I brought in a mild rejoinder by moving
the previous question, and showing that he, himself,
had proposed that I should take entire charge of
the arrangements, using my own good judgment at all
times 53 53
He said something about his error in supposing he
was traveling with a discerning person. Just then the
guard came along, slamming the doors, and we were
pushed into a third-class carriage, where we enjoyed
an all-day journey together.
At Edinburgh my companion wished to ascend the
Scott monument, visit a friend at the University, and
buy a plaid rug at one of the shops in Princess Street;
while I proposed to look up the footprints of Bobbie
Burns and John Knox. He said, " Confound John
Kncx! " I answered, " You evidently think I am refer-
ring to Knox the Hatter! " He grew mad as a hatter,
and I had to defend John Knox, and later had to do the
same for Rab and his friends, as well as for Christopher
North 53 53
And so it went he pooh-poohed my heroes; and I
scorned the friend he wished to find at the University,
smiled patronizingly on the Scott monument, and said,
** hoot mon " at the idea of buying a plaid rug in
All this was many years ago; since then I have been
very cautious about entering into any Anglo-American
alliances. Yet to travel alone often seems to be drop-
ping something out of your life. When the voyage is
rough, the weather bad and the fare below par, my
spirits always rise. I say to myself: " My son, this is
certainly tough but who cares! We can stand it, we
have had this way right along year after year but
just imagine your plight if there were some one in your
charge expecting a good time! "
Then I drink to Boreas and all the fiends of Gehenna,
and am supremely content.
But suppose the night is resplendent with stars, the
waves tremulous with reflected beauty, and as the great
ship goes gliding across the deep proud, strong and
tireless there come to you thoughts sublime and emo-
tions such as Wagner knew when he wrote the " Pil-
But you are not happy, simply because you want to
tell some one how happy you are. What is the star-
light for, save to call some one's attention to, or the
phosphorescent sheen except to be pointed out and
enjoyed by two> Exquisite beauty, as revealed in
music, painting, sculpture or beautiful scenery, affects
me at times to tears; and there always comes creeping
into my life a profound sadness, a dread homesickness,
to think that in this wealth of peace and joy I am
Can you stand by yourself on a hillside and look across
a beautiful little lake to the woods beyond; or walk
through a pine-forest, where the needles sink as a car-
pet beneath your feet, and the air is full of the pungent
odor of the pine, and the gently swaying tree-tops over-
head croon youa lullaby can you enjoy all this without
an exquisite melancholy, and a joy that hurts, piercing
your soul? It 's homesickness, that 's all ; you want to go
home and tell some one how happy you are. Give me
solitude, sweet solitude, but in my solitude give me
still one friend to whom I may murmur, Solitude is
sweet 53 53
HAT about the sea and the forest, the wooded
hillside and the little lake may not be the
exact words, but the thought is there just as
White Pigeon expressed it to me that evening
when we sat on the mossy bank of the lake at Grasmere
and threw pebbles into the water.
I had come up from Liverpool to Bowness, walked over
to Ambleside and along the lake to Grasmere. My
luggage consisted of a comb, a toothbrush and a stout
second-growth East Aurora hickory stick.
At Grasmere I applied at the Red Lion Inn for supper
and lodging. The landlady looked at my dusty, rusty
corduroys, paused, coughed and asked where my lug-
gage was. Wishing to be honest, I displayed the luggage
aforementioned. She did not smile. She was a large
person, sober, sedate, sincere and also serious, with a
big bunch of keys dangling from a waist that once was
Grecian. And she told me right there that if I wanted
accommodations I would have to pay in advance. I
demurred, pleaded and finally explained that I had lost
my money and had sent to New York for a remittance.
I was a remittance-man. Had this been true, it were sad,
yet I had a hundred pounds sterling in my belt; but it
just came to me to see how it would feel to be penniless
and friendless and plead for charity. It is not hard to
plead for charity when one has a pocket full of money*
<I So I pleaded. But it was of no avail. ;
I requested a drink pf water. This was denied. Then I
asked if I could wash in the lake; and this favor was
granted, and the advice volunteered that it would be a
good thing to do. And further the kind lady made
a motion toward a dangling red tassel that hung from a
rope, and suggested that I get me to a gunnery and
quickly, too, otherwise she would have to call the
porter 53 &
I felt to see that my money was all right to assure
myself it was no jest in earnest and departed. Being
singularly psychic to suggestion I followed the thought
that I wash in the lake, and started in that direction,
along a footpath that led across a meadow, over a stile.
A thick growth of bushes lined the lake for aways,
and then the footpath seemed to follow right through
the undergrowth. I pushed the green branches aside,
and continued along for about a hundred feet, when I
stood on the green, grass-covered bank of the beautiful
" Winderrnere." Daffodils lined the water's edge the
daffodils of Wordsworth down the lake were the
white wings of several sailboats; the sun had gone
down, but his long rays of gold still pierced the sky,
while across the water arose, silent and majestic, the
dark purple hills.
It was a beautiful sight so full of quiet and peace and
rest. I stood with hat in hand, the evening breeze fan-
ning my face, enjoying the scene. Just then there was
a little splash in the water, and looking down I saw a
woman with back toward me sitting on a boulder,
tossing pebbles into the lake. By the side of the woman
were her hat and book. I was on the point of softly
backing out through the bushes, when it came to me
that I had seen that head with its big coil of brown
hair somewhere else but where, ah, where!
Why, in Paris, two years before. It was White Pigeon.
f She had not seen me. I retraced my steps, and then
came crashing through the juniper, straight over to the
bankside, where I sat down about twenty feet from the
good lady. I was whistling violently and throwing peb-
bles into the water, not even glancing toward her. She
let me whistle for a full minute and then said gently:
" Do not be absurd! I know you/' Then we both
laughed, and I, of course, did the regulation thing,
and asked, " When did you arrive, and where are you
going, and how do you like it? "
" You see what I am doing here, and as for when I
arrived and how long I '11 stay, and how I like it what
difference is it? There, you are surprised to see me,
are n't you? I thought you had gotten past being sur-
prised at anything, long ago only silly people are sur-
prised you once said it, yourself! "
Then White Pigeon ceased to speak and we simply
gazed into each other's eyes. White Pigeon has gray
eyes that sometimes are blue and sometimes amber
it all depends upon her mood and the thoughts reflected
there. The long, sober gaze stole off into a half-smile
and she said, " You got things awfully ^ixed up in that
Rosa Bonheur booklet why not stick to truth? " 33
" Truth/' I replied, " is hideous, and facts are like
some men, stubborn things. But what was the matter
with the Bonheur Little Journey? "
" You will not be angry with me? "
" How could I be? "
" You promise? "
" Well, you said my cousin was a conductor on the
Lake Shore you knew perfectly well it was the Mich-
igan Central! "
It had been two years since I had seen this woman,
and not a letter had passed between us. I had sent her
a book now and then, and she had sent me a sketch
or two 33 33
White Pigeon knows nothing about me, and never
asked concerning my history, which is a blank, my
lord! Does the lily inquire of the humming-bird, *' Hast
hummed and fluttered about other flowers? "
That is a charming friendship that asks nothing, makes
no demands, needs no assurances, never falters, and is
so frank that it disarms prudery and pretense.
I said as much.
White Pigeon made no answer, but flung a pebble into
the lake 33 33
And all I know of White Pigeon is that she was born
in White Pigeon, Michigan, and had left there ten years
before to study art for a short time in Paris. <HThe
short time extended to ten years.
White Pigeon does not call herself an artist she only
copies pictures in the Louvre and gives lessons. " Not
being able to paint, I give lessons,'* she once said to
me. The first pictures she copied were sold to kind
gentlemen who make many wagons at South Bend,
Indiana; other pictures went to men who have inter-
ests at Ivorydale; and some have gone to the mill-
owner at Ypsilanti, for the mill-owner is interested in
art, as all patrons of the " Hum Journal " know.
White Pigeon lived at Paris because one must needs
live somewhere, and rich Americans sometimes send her
their daughters to * * finish. ' ' That was what took her over
to the Lake District she was traveling with two young
women from Grand Rapids. And so these three women
were doing Great Britain, and White Pigeon was acting
as courier, chaperone and instructor.
** I need ' finish/ " I suggested in one of the long pauses.
" I was just going to suggest it," said the lady.
" You say you are going to Sou they 's old home tomor-
row may I go, too? " I ventured.
And the answer was, " Of course if you will promise
not to work me up into copy."
I found lodgings that night at " Nab Cottage." Being
well recommended, the landlady did not hesitate, but
gave me the best accommodations her house afforded.
I Hartley Coleridge does not live at " Nab Cottage "
now a moss-covered slab marks his resting-place up
at the Grasmere Churchyard, and only a step away in a
very straight row are similar old headstones that token
the graves of William, Dorothy and Mary Wordsworth.
Hartley Coleridge had most of the weaknesses of his
father, and only a few of his better traits. Yet Southey
brought up the children of Coleridge and gave them
just as good advantages as he did his own.
" It is not * advantages ' that make great men it is
disadvantages! " said White Pigeon. We were eating
breakfast at the table set out under the arbor, back of
the Coleridge cottage Grace, Myrtle, White Pigeon
and I 3333
Grace and Myrtle were the Grand Rapids girls, and
fine girls, too pink and twenty, with diaries and auto-
graph-fans. Girls of that age are charming, but they
only interest me as do beautiful kittens or colts. Women
do not become wise or discreet until they are past
thirty. White Pigeon was past thirty.
We took the stage that morning at nine o'clock for
Keswick. The stage started from the Red Lion Inn. It
is a great event the starting of a four-horse stage. The
guests came out, and so did the boots, and chamber-
maids and waiters, and the cook came also. They stood
in line and bade the parting guests godspeed, and all
the guests were supposed to express gratitude tangibly*
The landlady was busy* flying about like a Plymouth
Rock hen with a brood of ducks. She saw me handing
up the pink-and-white Grace and Myrtle and the dig-
nified, tailor-made White Pigeon, and she came out
and apologized profusely for not having had room to
accommodate me the night before.
At last all the hatboxes and bloomin* luggage were
safely stowed, the trunks were lashed in place behind,
and I climbed to the top of the stage and took my
seat beside my charges. A merry blast was blown from
the tallyho horn. A man with a red coat, high white
hat, kid gloves and a brick-dust complexion mounted
the box and gathered up a big handful of reins. The
hostlers at the heads of the leaders let go, twenty
feet of whiplash went singing through the air and we
We swung through the village with more majesty and
clatter than the Empire State Express ever assumed,
stopping just an instant at the post-office for a bag of
mail that the brick-dusty driver caught with his feet,
and then away we went.
I am sorry I did not live in stagecoach times things
are now so dead and dreary and prosaic. Yet I some-
times have imagined that today the stagecoach business
in England is a little stagey many things are done
to heighten effects. For instance, the intense excitement
of starting is not exactly necessary why the mad
rush? No one is really in a hurry to reach a certain
place at a certain time! And all this is apparent when
you notice that a mile out of town the pace subsides to a
lazy dog-trot, and the boots has jumped down and
unchecked each horse so as to make things easy. I was
glad the boots got down, for whenever I see a horse's
head checked up in the air my impulse is to uncheck
him and once on Wabash Avenue in Chicago I did.
I was arrested, and it cost me five.
The road to Keswick bristles with history. Coleridge,
Wordsworth and Southey tramped it many a time, and
since their day, thousands of literary pilgrims have
come this way. That two poets-laureate should have
come from this beautiful corner of the earth of course
is interesting, but the honor of being poet-laureate to
the King is a shifting honor, depending upon the poet.
No title can ever really honor a man, although a man
may honor a title, and no King by taking thought can
add a cubit to a subject's stature. The man Is what he
is. Southey succeeded the poet Pye, who was laureate
before him S& A weaker nature than mine might here
succumb to temptation and play pleasant philological
pranks concerning the poet Pye, but I am above all that.
Pye was a good man, and if I could remember any of
the lines he wrote, I would here introduce them; but this
is doubtless unnecessary, for the gentle reader can
recall to suit.
White Pigeon claimed that Pye was greater than
Southey, and she further said that Tennyson's reputa*-
tion suffered by consenting to act as successor to thlis
line of men in whom felicity and insight were the
exception. The tierce of Canary was no pay for acting as
successor to Pye, but Southey jumped at the Canary
and slipped his last vestige of radicalism quickly,
" Oh, what a funny little church/* exclaimed Myrtle;
** can't we stop and go in? "
It is a curious little building that church at Wyth-
burn 33 53
It looks like a little girl's playhouse, that might have
belonged to her great-great-grandmother.
Opposite this lovely little church is a tavern, where a
lovely barmaid in white apron and lovely collar and
cuffs stood in the doorway, ready to serve the thirsty.
The red-coated driver pulled in on the tavern side, and
men in neckerchiefs, hobnailed shoes, blue woolen
stockings and knee-breeches made fussy haste to water
the horses. Old Brick-Dusty climbed down to see a man
in the tavern, and the Michigan contingent and Colonel
Littlejourneys slid down the other side and went into
Wythburn Church. There is n't another church in Eng-
land so peculiar and so interesting. A pew is marked
sacred to Wordsworth, and one also to Harriet Mar-
tineau, who I did not know before ever went to church.
The silver service was the gift of Southey, and is
inscribed \yith his name and crest. Southey was a
vestryman of Wythburn Church for many years, and
sometimes read the service there. I stood in the pulpit
where Southey stood, and so did White Pigeon, and I
reminded her that she would never be allowed there on
Sunday, for Deity is most easily approached and influ-
enced by men, as all theologians know and have ever
stoutly held. One of the busy hostlers came in, pulling
his forelock, and apologizing, in a voice full of cobwebs,
said that the coach was ready to start* We did the
proper thing, and also as much for the red-coated
driver, who, in spite of great dignity, we saw was open
to reward for well-doing. It was a great mistake, though,
to " cross his palm," for he began a lecture on the
Cumberland Kings, that lasted until we got to Thirl-
mere, where he stopped at the Pumping-Station, and
told us how the city of Manchester got its water-supply
from here. To him all things were equally interesting.
He was still deep in the fight between Manchester
aldermen and the 'Ouse of Commons when we reached
Castle Rigg. The Vale of Keswick opened before us.
We implored the well-informed driver to stop, and then
we got down and begged him to go on without us.
Seated there on the bankside we viewed the beautiful
scene of lake, valley and village stretching out so peace-
fully before us, all framed in the dark towering hills.
Even Grace forgot to say, " How lovely! " but sat there,
chin in hand, rapt and speechless.
Down in that valley, just a little to one side of the vil-
lage, Southey lived for over forty years, and all the
visitors he really liked he took to Castle Rigg, to show
them as he said, " the kingdoms of the earth/' It was
a view of which he never tired, Coleridge came up this
way first, and took lodgings with a Mr. Johnson, who
owned Greta Hall. It is not on record that Coleridge paid
any rent, but he was so charmed with the location that
he induced Southey to come and visit him. Southey
came and liked it so well that he remained. He per-
formed here a life- task that staggers one to contemplate:
fifty volumes or more of closely set type are shown you
at the Keswick Museum, duly labeled, " The Works of
Southey/' Charles Lamb's *' Works " were the East
India ledgers, but he wrote one little book of Essays
that are still sweet and fresh as wood-violets essays
written hot from the heart, often in tears; written
because he could not help it, or to please Mary he
did not know which.
No man ever divided his time up more systematically
than Southey. He produced political and theological
essays, histories, poems, diatribes, apologies and crit-
icisms, and worked as men work in the Carnegie Con-
solidated Steel Works.
Robert Southey was the precocious son of a Bristol
linen-draper. Being rather delicate, his parents did not
set him to work in a drygoods-store, but gave him
the benefit of Oxford. The thing that brought him first
into prominence was an article he wrote for '* The
Flaggellant," a college paper, wherein he ridiculed the
idea of a devil. Now the powers did not like that the
creed called for a " personal devil/' and they wanted
one. They summoned young Southey before them to
account for speaking disrespectfully of the devil. The
youth was found guilty and expelled.
He was a reckless young man, but recklessness is its
own check in fact, all things in life are self-regulating,
everything is limited. Southey's secret marriage with
Edith Fricker tamed him. Nothing tames men like
marriage; and when babies came, and Coleridge went
to Germany, leaving Mrs. Coleridge and young Hartley
in his charge, Southey realized he was dealing with a
condition, not a theory. Then soon he had the widowed
Mrs. Lovell with her brood on his hands, and his old
dream of pantisocracy was realized, only not just as
Too much can not be said for the patience and unflinch-
ing fidelity shown by Southey in shouldering the bur-
dens that Fate sent him,
"Any man can succeed with three good women to help
him! " said White Pigeon.
"True/* said I, "and next in importance to the person
who originates a good thing is the one who quotes it.'*
Men weighted with responsibilities fight for the estab-
lished order. Southey *s pension and his steady income
came from the men in power, and he made it his business
not to offend them. Southey was a scholar ; he associated
with educated people; and once he complained because
he could not get acquainted with workingmen they
shut up like clams on his approach. Of course they
did, for we are simple and sincere only with our own.
<I Learned, scholarly and cultured men are to be pitied,
for they are ever the butt, byword and prey of the
untaught, who are often the knowing. As success came
to Southey he lost the sense of values, that is to say,
the sense of humor. He attacked Byron with great
severity, and Byron's reply was the dedication of Don
Juan, " To the illustrious Poet-Laureate, Robert
Southey, LL. D." It was as if the play of " Sappho "
were dedicated to the Reverend Doctor Parkhurst.
Southey came out with a card declaring he had given
Lord Byron no permission to dedicate any of his
detestable works to him. Byron replied, acknowledging
all this, but saying he had a right to honor the name of
Southey, if he chose, just the same. No taint of excess
or folly marks the name of Southey; his life was filled
with good work and kind deeds. His name is honored by
a monument in the village of Keswick, and in Cros-
thwaite Church is another monument to his memory,
the inscription being written by Wordsworth*
ERE Heaven a place, I still politely maintain,
it would probably be located in the Lake
District of England.
Every man of genius the world has ever pro-
duced has come from a little belt of land in the North
Temperate Zone. Snow and cold, rock and mountain,
danger and difficulty these are the conditions required
to make men. The heaven of which I can conceive is a
place with plenty of oxygen, sunshine and water. In a
mountainous country water runs (I hope no one will
dispute this) and winds blow, and running water and
air in motion are always pure.
When I have no thoughts worth recording I take a
walk, and the elements, which seem to carry soul, fill
me to the brim.
The Tropics may have much to offer in way of soft,
luxurious creature comforts. But the Tropics supply
sundry and divers discomforts as well, and really offer
too much; for with the flowers, vines, fruits and never-
ending foliage go mosquitoes, tarantulas, and snakes
that wiggle and sometimes bite.
The climate of Cumberland does not overpower one
the air is of a quality that urges you on to think and
do 53 33
By no reach of imagination can one conjure forth
anything more beautiful in Nature than is to be realized
in vicinity of Keswick; and no home thereabouts sur-
passes Greta Hall in charm of location and quiet, simple
beauty* f Greta Hall is a rambling pile, constructed
partly of stone and partly of wood, evolved rather than
built, for evidently the work was done by many hands,
and stretched over a century or more of time. Vines and
flowers, fruits and shrubbery, stone walls covered close
by creeping bellflowers where birds chirrup and cheep
and play hide-and-seek the livelong day all these are
there. The house is situated on a little wooded plateau
that overlooks the lake, and back of it the solemn and
everlasting hills stand guard. There are no such moun-
tains here as one sees in Switzerland, overpowering,
vast, awful in their majesty; but just green-topped,
self-sufficient and friendly hills that invite you to lift
up your eyes and be strong.
Visitors are welcome to the grounds at Greta Hall at
all times, and the kind old gardener who showed us
about gathered us bouquets of mignonette, rue and
thyme, and gave us the history of a wonderful pear-
tree that had turned into a vine and now covers one
whole side of a stable thirty feet long. Even a tree will
lose its individuality if it is not allowed to assert its
nature and care for itself. That particular pear-tree, we
were told, sprang from a slip planted by Shelley when
he once came here on a visit to Southey; and we were
further told that the year Shelley was drowned, the
leaves of this tree turned pale and withered, and only
by patient, loving nursing on the part of our old gar-
dener's father was its life saved. The residence was
closed the day we were there, in dread anticipation
of Cook tourists with designs on the shrubbery, we
had reason to believe, but we lingered around the
grounds, listened to the soothing, rippling lullaby of
the Greta, watched the strutting peacocks, and ate
bread-and-milk, under the trees, out of big bowls sup-
plied us by the old gardener for the most modest of
considerations 33 53
Southey never really mixed in the wealth of beauty
that covers this beautiful corner of earth. He was
learned and profound, and he took himself and the
Church and the State seriously. He felt himself a part
of an indestructible institution, whereas man and all
his works are no more peculiar, no more wonderful
than an ant-hill and last only a day longer. He never
realized that he was a part of the great whole that
made up mountain, lake, globe, wooded glen and tire-
less river. He differentiated. He considered himself a
man, an educated man, and therefore a little better,
and a little above, and a little outside of it all other-
wise how could he have withered at the top at the
early age of sixty-seven ?
This question White Pigeon asked as we sat in the
dim quiet of Crosthwaite Church, down in the village.
I did not attempt to reply people do not ask questions
expecting, necessarily, to have them answered. We ask
questions in order to clarify our own minds.
The warning blast of the coach-horn was heard, and
we went out into the sunshine. I bade my three friends
good-by (first placing my autograph on Grace's and
Myrtle's fans), and they climbed to the top of the
coach, I sat on the stone wall and watched them until
they disappeared around the bend of the road, waving
handkerchiefs. That night I made my way over to
Penreith on the way to Carlisle. It had been a day
brimming with thought and feeling, and beauty ex-
pressed and unexpressed, and the kindness of kind
friends who understand. That night as I dozed off into
deep, calm sleep I said to myself: ** They were great
men, those Lake Poets, and the world is better because
they lived. But there will come other men and they will
be greater than those gone the best is yet to be." SS
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
Beneath the blaze of a tropical sun the mountain peaks
are the Thrones of Frost, this through the absence of
objects to reflect the rays S& What no one with us
shares, seems scarce our own we need another to
reflect our thoughts.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
AMUEL T. COLERIDGE was a
thinker, and thinkers are so rarely
found that the world must take note
of them. John Stuart Mill, writing in
Eighteen Hundred Forty, assigned
first place among English philoso-
phers to Jeremy Bentham inci-
dentally mentioning that Samuel
Taylor Coleridge was Bentharn's only rival.
In philosophy there is an apostolic succession. We
build on the past, and all the centuries of turmoil and
travail which have gone before have made this moment
possible. There has never been any such thing as " the
fall of man " ; for the march of the race has been a con-
tinual climb a movement onward and upward. Were
it not for Coleridge and Bentham, we could not have
had Buckle, Wallace and Spencer, for the minds of
men would not have been prepared to give them a
hearing. ** Half the battle is in catching the Speaker's
eye/* said Thomas Brackett Reed; and a John the
Baptist to prepare the way is always necessary. With-
out Coleridge to quietly ignore the question of prece-
dent, and refuse to accept a thing without proof, and
ask eternally and yet again, " How do you know? "
Charles Darwin with his " Origin of Species " would
have been laughed out of court. Or probably had Darwin
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
been persistent we would have consigned him to the
stocks, burned his book in the public square, and with
the aid of logical thumbscrews made him recant.
Even as it was, the gibes and guffaws of the press and
pulpit came near drowning the modest, moderate voice
of Darwin; and for a score of years, his reputation as a
scientist seemed to be trembling in the balance. Yet
today the man who would seriously attempt in an
educated assembly to throw obloquy upon the doctrine
of Evolution and the name of Charles Darwin would
find himself speedily listed with Brudder Jasper of
Richmond, Virginia. The Church now, everywhere, has
its Drummonds, who build on Darwin and use his
citations as proof; and Drummond merely expressed
what the many believe no more.
The man who has dared to think for himself and voiced
his thought the emancipated man has been as one
in a million. What usually passes for thought is only
the repetition of things we have heard or been told.
We memorize, repeat by rote and call it thought.
With the Church and State in control of food and
clothes, and with spears, clubs, knives and guns ready
to suppress whatsoever seemed dangerous to their
stability, it is a miracle that men have ever improved
on anything for progress has been for centuries a
perilous performance. To question a priest was blas-
phemy. To reason with a judge was heinous. To think
and decide for yourself was to invite torture and death*
SAMUEt T. COLERIDGE
^f And all this was very natural, simply because the
superior class who monopolized the good things of earth
were obliged, in order to enslave and tax men, to make
them believe that their power was derived from God,
And thus was taught the " divine right of kings/' the
duty of submission, the necessity of belief and the
sinfulness of doubt. The source of all knowledge was
declared to be a book, and the right of interpretation
of this book was given to one class alone those who
sided with and were a part of the Superior Class.
The reason the race has progressed so slowly is because
the strong, vigorous and independent have been sup-
pressed, either by legal process, or exterminated through
war, which reaps the best and lets the weak, the dis-
eased and the cowards go.
Those who doubted and questioned have been deprive^
of food and clothes, disgraced, mobbed, robbed, lashed
naked at the cart's tail, burned at the stake, or sepa-
rated from their families and transported beyond the
sea to be devoured by wild beasts, die in jungles, or
toil out their lives in slavery.
But still there were always a few who would doubt
and a few who would question; and in the early part
of the Eighteenth Century in England the government
was being put to severe straits to cope with the diffi-
culty. Lying in the Thames were receiving-ships orr
which were crowded men and women to be transported.
When the ship was full, crowded to her utmost, she
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
sailed away with her living cargo. From Sixteen Hun-
dred Fifty to Seventeen Hundred Fifty, over forty
thousand people were sent away for their country's
good. The hangman worked overtime, all prisons were
crowded, and the walls of Newgate bulged with men
and women, old and young, who were believed to be
dangerous to the stability and well-being of the superior
class that is, those who had the right to tax others S3
Finally, the enormity of bloodshed and woe involved
caused a sort of concession on both sides to be agreed
upon. Oppression continued will surely lead to a point
where it cures itself, and the superior class in England,
with a wise weather-eye, saw the reef on which they
were in danger of striking. They heard the breakers,
and began to grant concessions unwillingly of course
concessions wrung from them. The censorship was
abolished, reform bills introduced, the rights of free
speech and a free press were partially recognized. The
clergy, taking the cue, began to preach more love and
less damnation; for the pew ever dictates to the pulpit
what it shall preach. Thus general relaxation was in
order to meet the competition of rival sects and inde-
pendent preachers that were springing up; for although
creeds never change, yet their interpretation does, and
liberal sects do their work, not by growing strong,
but by making all others more liberal.
Thus the latter part of the Eighteenth Century wit-
nessed a weakening of both sides through compromise.
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
The schools and colleges were pedantic, complacent,
smug and self-satisfied; by giving in a few points they
had absorbed the radicals, and the political protesters
had been bought off with snug places in the excise. Pre-
tended knowledge passed for wisdom, dignity paraded
as worth, affectation and hypocrisy patronized virtue.
And Coleridge appears upon the scene, a conservative,
with a beautiful innocence and an indifference to all
pretended authority and asks, " How do you know? "
SAMUEL T. CCTLERIDGE
1HE number of people who have written their
names large in literature, who were the chil-
dren of clergymen, is no mere coincidence.
Tennyson, Addison, Goldsmith, Emerson,
Lowell, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Coleridge you
can add to the list to suit. Young people follow example,
and the habit of the father in writing out his thoughts
causes others of the family to try it, too. Then there is
an atmosphere of books in a rectory, and leisure to
think, and best of all the income is not so great but that
the practise of economy of time and money is duly
enforced by necessity. To be launched into a library
and learn by absorption is a great blessing.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in Seventeen Hun-
dred Seventy-two, the son of the Reverend John
Coleridge, of Ottery Saint Mary, a small village of
Devonshire, The rector was also a schoolmaster, just as
all clergymen were before division of labor forced itself
upon us. This worthy clergyman was twice married, his
first wife bearing him three children, the second ten.
Samuel was the last of the brood the thirteenth but
his parents were not superstitious.
The youngest in a big family, like the first, is apt to
have a deal of love lavished upon him. The question of
discipline has proved its own futility, and when a baby
comes to parents approaching fifty, depend upon it, that
child transforms the household into a monarchy, with
himself as tyrant. This may be well and it may not.
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
Little Samuel Taylor seemed to be aware of his power;
he evolved a wondrous precocity and ruled the rectory
with a rod of iron* When he was five he propounded
questions that shook the orthodoxy of the worthy
vicar to its very center.
Yet, remarkable as was the intellect of Samuel Taylor
Coleridge, the family would not have remained in
obscurity without him. In fact, the very brightness of
his fame caused the excellence of his brothers to be lost
in the shadow. His brother James became the father of
Henry Nelson Coleridge, who married his cousin Sara,
the daughter of our poet.
To anticipate a little, it is well enough here to say that
the daughter of Coleridge was a woman of remarkable
excellence, and if you wish to disprove the adage that
genius does not transmit itself she is a good example
to bring up even though there is a difference between
fact and truth. James Coleridge was also the father of
Mr. Justice Coleridge, himself the father of Lord Chief
And since iconoclasm is not out of place in an essay on
Coleridge, it can also be stated that when Sara Cole-
ridge married her cousin she did a wise thing. The
marriage was a most happy one, and the children of
these cousins have shown themselves to be beyond the
average. And once, certainly not with his daughter in
mind, Coleridge debated the question of consanguinity
with Charles Lamb, and proved to his own satisfaction
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
at least that the marriage of cousins was eminently
sane, proper, just and right, and fraught with the best
results for humanity.
The only indictment that can be brought against the
father of Coleridge is that he was a zealous Latin
scholar, and proposed that the term ** ablative " be
abolished as insufficient, and in its stead should be used
that of " quale-quare-quiddative case/* He was a simple,
amiable, excellent man who did his work the best he
could, and was beloved by all the parish. As to the
excellence of the established order of things he had no
doubts government and religion were divine institu-
tions and should be upheld by all honest men.
As to the vicar's wife we know little, but enough of a
glance is given into her character through letters to
show that she had in her make-up a trace of noble dis-
content. She was not entirely happy in her surround-
ings, and the amiable ways of her husband were often
an exasperation to her, rather than a pleasure even
amiability can be overdone. He never saw more than
a mile from home, but her eyes swept England from
Cornwall to Scotland, and few men, even, saw so far
as that a hundred years ago. The discontent of Samuel
Taylor Coleridge was the heritage of mother to son.
When Samuel was nine years of age the father passed
away. The widow would have been in sore financial
straits had it not been for the older children, and even as
it was, strict economy and untiring industry were in
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
order. Out of sympathy, Mr, Justice Duller, who had
been a pupil of the Reverend John Coleridge, proposed
to secure the youngest boy a scholarship in Christ's
Hospital School, and so we find him entered there, July
Eighteenth, Seventeen Hundred Eighty-two. This was
a year memorable in the history of America; and the
alertness of the charity boy's intellect is shown in that
he was aware of the struggle between England and the
Colonies. He discussed the situation with his school-
fellows, and explained that the mother country had
made a mistake in exacting too much. His sympathies
were with the Colonies, but he thought submission on
their part was in order when the stamp- tax was removed
and that complete independence was absurd the
Colonies needed some one to protect them.
Such reasoning in a boy of ten years seems strange,
especially in view of the fact that a noted professor of
pedagogy has recently explained to us that no child
under fourteen is capable of independent reasoning 35
But it is quite certain that young Coleridge's opinions
were not borrowed, for all the lad's acquaintances,
who thought of the matter at all, considered the Ameri-
cans simply " rebels " who merited death.
Coleridge remained at Christ's Hospital for eight years,
and before he left had easily taken his place as " Dep-
uty Grecian/' Charles Lamb has given many delightful
glimpses of that schoolboy life in the " Essays of Elia."
<I Middleton, afterward Bishop of Calcutta, called the
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
attention of Boyer, the master, to Coleridge by saying,
"There is a boy who reads Vergil for amusement! "
Boyer was a strict disciplinarian, but he was ever on
the lookout for a lad who loved books the average
youth getting out of all the study he could.
The master began to encourage young Coleridge, and
Coleridge responded. He wrote verses and essays, and
was a prodigy in memorizing. According to Boyer's idea,
and it was the prevailing idea everywhere then, and is
yet in some sections, memorization was the one thing
desirable. If the subject were Plato, and the master r had
forgotten his book, he called on Coleridge to recite. And
the tall, fair-haired boy, with the big dreamy eyes,
would rise and give page after page, "verbatim et
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
EFORE Coleridge went to Cambridge, when
nineteen years old he had taken on that
masterly quality in conversation that made
his society sought, even to the last. Lamb has
told us of the gentle voice, not loud nor deep, but full
of mellow intonations, and bell-like in its purity.
Such a voice, laden with fine feeling, carrying con-
viction, only goes with a great soul. No doubt, though,
the young man had grown into a bit of a dictator,
and this habit of harangue he carried with him to
College. To talk enabled him to think, and expression
is necessary to growth. So the habit of argument with
Coleridge seemed Nature's method of developing his
powers of mental analysis. No more foolish saying
was ever launched than, " Children should be seen
and not heard/' From lisping babyhood Coleridge
talked, and talked much. When he was twenty, at
Cambridge, he drew the boys to his room, until it was
crowded to suffocation, just by the magic of his voice,
and the subtle quality of his thought. His questioning
mind went right to the heart of things, and in his divi-
sions and heads and subheads even the professors could
not always follow him. Let us hope that he himself
always knew what he was trying to explain.
He discussed metaphysics, theology and politics, and
very naturally got to treading on thin ice.
In theology his reasoning led him into Unitarianism,
then a very fearful thing; and in politics he dallied with
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
Madame la Revolution. <S A polite note from the Master
of the College, suggesting that he talk less and follow
the curriculum a little more closely, led him straight
to the Master, with whom he proposed to argue the
case, or publicly debate it. This was terrible !
Stephen Crane at Syracuse University, a hundred years
later, did just such a thing. He sought to argue a point
in the classroom with Chancellor Symms.
" Tut, tut! " said the Chancellor. " Have you forgotten
what Saint Paul says on that very theme? "
" Yes, I know/* replied the best catcher ever on the
Syracuse Nine; " yes, I know what Saint Paul says, but
I differ with Saint Paul/ 5 And Stevie, unconsciously,
was standing on the well-lubricated chute that landed
him, soon, well outside the campus.
The authorities did not admire the brilliant young
Coleridge, full of his reasons and prolix abstractions.
He was attracting too much attention to himself, and
gradually gathering about him a throng of admirers who
might disturb the balance of things. He was there any-
way only through sufferance, and an intimation was
given him that if he were not willing to accept things
as they existed, and as they Were taught, he had better
Piqued by his treatment and feeling he had been mis-
understood and wronged, he suddenly disappeared $&
Some months afterwards, an acquaintance found him in
a company of dragoons, duly enlisted in His Majesty's
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
service, under an assumed name. <I The authorities at
Jesus College were notified, and knowing that such a
youth was out of place serving as a soldier, and feeling
further a small pang of regret possibly for having driven
him away, a plan was set on foot to secure his discharge.
This was soon brought about, and doubtless much to
Coleridge's relief. Erelong he found himself back at
Cambridge a little subdued, and a trifle more discreet,
for his rough contact with the workaday world.
A journey to Oxford, to visit an old friend, proved a
pivotal point in his life. The fame of Coleridge as a
poet had gone abroad, and the literary fledglings at
Oxford sought to do the visitor honor in the proper
way. Among others whom he met on this visit were
Robert Southey and Robert Lovell, both poets of con-
siderable local f ame.
Lovell had been married but a few months before to a
young woman by the name of Fricker. Southey was
engaged to a sister of the bride, and there was still a
third sister fancy-free. The three poets became fast
friends. They were all radicals, full of ambition to
make a name for themselves, and all intent on elevating
society out of the ruts into which it had fallen. All had
suffered contumely on account of advanced ideas; and
all were out of conceit with the existing order.
They discussed the matter at length, and decided to
set the world an example, by founding an ideal colony
and showing how to make the most of life.
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
Coleridge had long been interested in America, and
from an acquaintanceship with sundry soldiers who
had helped fight the battles of George the Third in
the New World, he had gathered a rather romantic
idea of the country. The stories of returned sailors
and soldiers, told to civilians, are seldom exactly
authentic. And Coleridge the poet, bubbling with the
effervescence of youth, argued that a home on the
banks of the Susquehanna, with love and books and
comradeship, was the ideal condition.
The matter was broached to the three sisters Fricker,
and they of course responded what woman worthy
of the name of woman would not? And so the arrange-
ments were fast being made, and as a necessary feature
the three poets were duly and legally married to the
three sisters, and Eden was to be peopled with the best.
<IA date was arranged for sailing, but some trifling
piatter of finance delayed the exodus in fact, certain
expected loans were not forthcoming. Coleridge put in
the time lecturing and preaching from Unitarian pulpits.
He also tried his hand as editor, but the publication
pchenie failed to bring the shekels that were to buy
emancipation* The innate contrariness of things seemed
to be blocking all his plans.
Meanwhile we find Lovell drifting off into commer-
cialism. That is to say, Barabbas-like, he had turned
publisher. Gadzooks! What would you have a man with
a wife and baby do ? Live on moonshine well, well, well I
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
<I Death claimed poor Lovell before he could make a
success either of commerce or of art.
Coleridge moved up to the Lake District, and at Kes-
wick, near where the water comes down at Lodore
or did before the stream dried up he rented rooms of
a kind friend by the name of Johnson, who owned Greta
Hall. Southey was writing articles for London papers.
He received a guinea a column, and when he wrote a
poem, as he did every little while, he sent it to a pub-
lisher who returned him a little good cash.
Southey 's wife went up to Keswick on a visit to see
her sister, Mrs. Coleridge. Southey followed up to Kes-
wick, and rather liked the situation. The Southeys and
the Coleridges all lived together as one happy family $
Southey was writing poetry and getting paid for it;
and beside this had a small income. Coleridge allowed
Southey to buy the supplies, and when he went away on
tramp lecturing tours he felt perfectly saf e in leaving his
family with Southey.
While up that way he met a young man, a native, by
the name of Wordsworth William Wordsworth and a
poet, too 33 33
Wordsworth had a sister named Dorothy, and this
brother and sister lived together in a little whitewashed
stone cottage, built up against the hillside at Grasmere,
a village thirteen miles from Keswick. Coleridge liked
these people first-rate and they liked him. He used to go
down to visit them, and they would all sit up late
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
listening to the splendid talk of the handsome Coleridge.
William said he was the only great man he had ever
met, and Dorothy agreed in the proposition.
Coleridge was discouraged: the world did not care for
his work, and the men in power had set their faces
against him or he thought they had, which is the
same thing. There was a conspiracy, he thought, to
keep him down; and Wordsworth should have advised
him to join it, but did not.
Dorothy Wordsworth was a most extraordinary woman
she was gentle, kind, low-voiced, sympathetic. She
was not handsome, but she had the intellect that
entitled her to a membership in the Brotherhood of Fine
Minds. She knew the splendid excellence of Coleridge,
and could follow him in his most abstract dissertations;
and if his logic faltered she could lead him back to the
Dorothy Wordsworth admired and pitied Coleridge;
and from pity to love is but a step.
But Coleridge was not capable of a passionate love
the substance of his being was all absorbed in abstract
thought. And yet Dorothy Wordsworth attracted him
as no other woman ever did. He forgot his wife, Sara,
up there at Southey's. Sara was a better-looking woman
than Dorothy, but she lacked intellect. Her life was all
bound up in housekeeping and going to church, and
the petty little round of daily happenings to neighbors
and friends. The world of thought and dreams to her
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
was nothing. She loved her husband, but his foolish
foibles vexed her, and his lack of application prompted
her to chide him. And at such times he would turn to
his friends at Dove Cottage for sympathy and rest.
flf They used to tramp the hills, and discuss philosophy,
and recite their poems the livelong day. It was on one
such jaunt that out of the ghost of shoreless seas they
sighted the "Ancient Mariner." Then Coleridge went
ahead, completed the plot and gave the poem to the
world. And once he said, half -boastfully, to Dorothy:
" This old seafaring poem is valuable in that it is a
tale no one will understand, but which will excite uni-
versal interest. Only the perfectly sane and sensible
is dull" 33 33
Wordsworth had read somewhat of the works of the
German philosophers, and as he and his sister had a
little money saved up they decided to go over and
attend the lectures at the University of Gottingen for
awhile. Coleridge had nothing in the way to prevent his
going, too, save that he did n't have the money. How-
ever, he wanted to go and so decided to lay the case
before the sons of Josiah Wedgwood. These young men
had been schoolfellows of Coleridge at Cambridge, and
once he had gone home with them artd so had met their
father 33 33
And right here comes a very strong temptation to say
not another word about Coleridge, but merge this essay
off into a sketch of that most excellent, strong and
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
noble man, Josiah Wedgwood. Here is a man who
left his impress indelibly on the times, and whose
influence outweighed that of a dozen prime ministers.
The potter is gone, but he lives in his art, so we still
have the best and purest and noblest of the soul of
This man had assisted Coleridge at Cambridge, and it
was to his sons Coleridge looked for help to realize his
Susquehanna dream of Utopia. But the Wedgwoods
knew the hazy, moonshine quality of the project and
Coleridge now appealed to them for assistance in a
saner project, and they supplied him the money to go
His stay of fourteen months in Germany gave him a
firm hold on the language, and a goodly glimpse into
the philosophy of Kant, Leibnitz and Schleiermacher.
When Coleridge returned to England, he went at once
to see his interesting f amily. Rumor has it that Mrs.
Coleridge, in addition to caring for her own little brood
and assisting in the Southey household, had also been
working in the Keswick lead-pencil factory for a weekly
wage of twelve shillings* The philosopher did not
much like this lowering of dignity, and said so mildly.
This led to the truthful explanation that he had hardly
done his duty by his family in allowing them to shift
for themselves or be cared for by kinsmen; and there-
fore advice from him was out of place. In short, Southey
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
intimated that while he would care for his sisters-in-law
he drew the line at brothers-in-law. And Samuel Taylor
Coleridge drifted up to London (being down) to see if
something would not turn up.
His first task there was to translate " Werther," but
the work did not seem to go. Grub Street took up the
brilliant talker, and for a time he gave parlor lectures
and filled the air of thought and speculation with his
brilliant pyrotechnics. The force of his mind was
everywhere acknowledged, but someway he did not
seem to get on. Men who have managed the finances
of a nation often have not been able successfully to
control their own; and more than once we have had
the spectacle of one who could do the thinking for a
world failing in the humdrum duties of a citizen and
neighbor. Coleridge tried various things, among others
a secretaryship that took him to Malta, but the lack of
system in his habits and his absent-mindedness made
him the prey and butt of " practical " men.
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
HEN Carlyle said that no more dreary record
than the lives of authors existed, save the
Newgate Calendar, he spoke truth.
That the lives of most authors is a series of
misunderstandings, blunders, heart-burnings, tragedies,
is a fact. The author is a man who diverts and amuses us
by doing the things we would do if we had time; and
if we like him it is only because he expresses the things
we already know. His is a hard task, requiring intense
concentration a concentration that can only be con-
tinued for a short time without the absolute burning
out of existence.
To think one's best and write out ideas is an abnormal
operation. The most artistic work is always done in a
sort of fever or ecstacy, which in its very nature is
transient. To hunt and fish and dream and to work with
one's hands are all very natural; but to sit down and
think and then express your thoughts by the artificial
scheme of writing on paper is a dangerous operation.
If carried to excess it shall be paid for by your life 53
Coleridge had turned night into day in his hot zeal to
follow the winding, dancing mystery of existence to its
inmost recess. At times he had forgotten to eat or sleep;
and then to reinforce despairing nature he had resorted
Digestion had become impaired, circulation faulty
through lack of exercise, so sleeplessness followed stimu-
lation. Then to quiet pain came the use of the drug that
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
brings oblivion. And lo! thought burned up brighter
than ever and all the dreams of youth and twenty came
Coleridge had made a discovery. He thought he was
getting the start of God Almighty; but he was n't, for
men have tried that before, and are trying it today, and
many know not yet that we are strong only as we cling
close to the skirts of Mother Nature and follow lovingly
in her ways*
From his twenty-ninth year we find Coleridge a wreck
in mind and body; shuffling, sick, disheartened, erratic,
uncertain, yet occasionally brilliant. He tramped the
streets, feared and shunned. His money was gone, his
power of concentration had vanished. In search of
bread he met an old-time friend, Doctor Gilknan.
" Gillman," said Coleridge, *' I am sick and helpless
look at me! "
" Why don't you come to my house and live with me? "
asked the kind friend.
*' Gillman," said the poor man, " Gillman, I am on
my way there! "
So Gillman brought him to his house up at Highgate
and took care of him as a child. And there he remained,
the pride and pet of a group of brave, thinking men and
women 33 53
He lived on for thirty years, under the kindly, skilful
care of his friend, but all the real work of his life was
done before he was thirty. Occasionally the old fire
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
would flash forth, and the wit and insight of his youth
would shine out. Keats, Shelley, Lord Byron, and
others strong and great sought him out to hold con-
verse with him* And so he existed, a sort of oracle,
amiable, kind and generous wreck of a man that was
protected and defended by loving friends; while up
at Keswick, Southey cared for his wife and educated
his children as though they were his own.
" I am dying," said Coleridge toGillman in July, Eight-
een Hundred Thirty-four; " dying, but I should have
died, like Keats, in youth and not have made myself a
burden to you do you forgive me? " We can guess the
answer 53 53
The dust of Coleridge rests in Highgate Cemetery, just
a step from where he lived all those years. He, himself,
selected the place and wrote his epitaph. The simple
monument that marks the spot was paid for by kind
friends who remembered him and loved him and who
pardoned him for all that he was not, in memory of what
he once had been.
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
O a young man from the country, who makes
his way up, no greater shock ever comes than
the discovery that rich people are, for the
most part, woefully ignorant. He has always
imagined that material splendor and spiritual gifts go
hand in hand; and now if he is wise he discovers that
millionaires are too busy making money, and too
anxious about what they have made, and their families
are too intent on spending it, ever to acquire a calm,
judicial mental attitude.
The rich are not the leisure class, and they need edu-
cation no less than the poor. Lord, enlighten thou our
enemies, should be the prayer of every man who works
for progress : give clearness to their mental perceptions,
awaken in them the receptive spirit, soften their callous
hearts, and arouse their powers of reason.
Danger lies in their folly* not in their wisdom; their
weakness is to be feared, not their strength.
That the wealthy and influential class should fear
change, and cling stubbornly to conservatism, is cer-
tainly to be expected S3 To convince this class that
spiritual and temporal good can be improved upon by a
more liberal policy has been a task a thousand times
greater than the exciting of the poor to riot. It is easy
to fire the discontented, but to arouse the rich and carry
truth home to the blindly prejudiced is a different
matter. Too often the reformer has been one who caused
the rich to band themselves against the poor.
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was a Tory who defended the
existing order on the plea of its usefulness 33 He
approached the vital issue from the inside, taught the
conservative to think, and thus opened the eyes of the
aristocrats without exciting their fears or unduly
arousing their wrath.
Self-preservation prompts men to move in the line of
least resistance. And that any man should ever have
put his safety in peril by questioning the authority *>f
those able and ready to confiscate his property and take
away his life is very strange. Such a person must
belong to one of two types. He must be either a revo-
lutionist one who would supplant existing authority
with his own, thus knowingly and willingly hazarding
all or he is an innocent, indiscreet individual, abso-
lutely devoid of all interest in the main chance.
Coleridge belonged to the last-mentioned type. Genius
needs a keeper. Here was a man so absorbed in abstract
thought, so intent on attaining high and holy truth, that
he neglected his friends, neglected his family, neglected
himself until his body refused to obey the helm. It is
easy to find fault with such a man, but to refuse to grant
an admiring recognition of his worth, on account of
what he was not, is an error, pardonable only to the
rude, crude and vulgar. The cultivated mind sees the
good and fixes attention on that.
Coleridge formulated no system, solved no complex
problems, made no brilliant discoveries. But his habit
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
of analysis enriched the world beyond power to com-
pute. He taught men to think and separate truth from
error. He was not popular, for he did not adapt himself
to the many. His business was to teach teachers he
conducted a Normal School, and taught teachers how
to teach. Coleridge went to the very bottom of a sub-
ject, and his subtle mind refused to take anything for
granted. He approached every proposition with an
unprejudiced mind. In his "Aids to Reflection/' he says,
*' He who begins by loving Christianity better than
truth will proceed by loving his own sect or church
better than Christianity, and then end in loving himself
better than all."
The average man believes a thing first, and then
searches for proof to bolster his opinion. Every observer
must have noticed the tenuous, cobweb quality of
reasons that are deemed sufficient to the person who
thinks he knows, or whose interests lie in a certain
direction. The limitations of men seem to make it
necessary that pure truth should come to us through
men who are stripped for eternity. Kant, the villager
who never traveled more than a day's walk from his
birthplace, and Coleridge, the homeless and houseless
aristocrat, with no selfish interests in the material
world, view things without prejudice.
The method of Coleridge, from his youth, was to divide
the whole into parts. Then he begins to eliminate, and
divides down, rejecting all things that are not the thing.
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
until Ke finds the thing. He begins all inquiries by sup-
posing that nothing is known on the subject. He will
not grant you that murder and robbery are bad you
must show why they are bad, and if you can not explain,
he will take the subject up and divide it into heads for
you S& 33
First, the effect on the sufferer. Second, the evil to the
doer. Third, the danger of a bad example. Fourth, the
injury to society through the feeling of insecurity. Fifth,
the pain given to the families of both doer and sufferer.
Next he will look for excuses for the crime and give all
the credit he can; and then finally strike a balance and
give a conclusion.
One of Coleridge's best points was in calling attention
to what constitutes proof; he saw all fallacies and dis-
covered at a glance illusions in logic that had long
been palmed off on the world as truth. He saw the gulf
that lies between coincidence and sequence, and
hastened the day when the old-time pedant with his
mighty tomes and tiresome sermons about nothing
should be no more. And so today, in the Year of Grace
Nineteen Hundred, the man who writes must have
something to say, and he who speaks must have a mes-
sage. " Coleridge/' says Principal Shairp, " was the
originator and creator of the higher criticism." The race
has gained ground, made head upon the whole; and
thanks to the thinkers gone, there are thinkers now in
every community who weigh, sift, try and decide. No
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
statement made by an interested party can go unchal-
lenged. " How do you know? " and " Why? " we ask.
<IThat is good which serves man is the important
item, this earth is the place, and the time is now. So all
good men and women and all churches are endeavoring
to make earth heaven; and all agree that to live, now
and here, the best you can, is the fittest preparation
for a life to come.
We no longer accept the doctrine that our natures are
rooted in infamy, and that the desires of the flesh are
cunning traps set by Satan, with God's permission, to
undo us. We believe that no one can harm us but our-
selves, that sin is misdirected energy, that there is no
devil but fear, and that the universe is planned for
good. On every side we find beauty and excellence held
in the balance of things. We know that work is needful,
that winter is as necessary as summer, that night is as
useful as day, that death is a manifestation of life, and
just as good. We believe in the Now and Here. We
believe in a power that is in ourselves that makes for
righteousness 33 33
These things have not been taught us by a superior
class who have governed us for a consideration, and to
whom we have paid taxes and tithes we have simply
thought things out for ourselves, and in spite of them,
We have listened to Coleridge, and others, who said:
" You should use your reason and separate the good
from the bad, the false from the true, the useless from
SAMUEL T. COLERIDGE
the useful. Be yourself and think for yourself; and
while your conclusions may not be infallible they will
be nearer right than the opinions forced upon you by
those who have a personal interest in keeping you in
ignorance. You grow through the exercise of your
faculties, and if you do not reason now you never will
advance. We are all sons of God, and it doth not yet
appear what we shall be* Claim your heritage! "
The stimulus subsided. The paroxysms ended in pros-
tration. Some took refuge in melancholy, and their
eminent chief alternated between a menace and a sigh.
As I sat opposite the Treasury bench, the Ministers
reminded me of those marine landscapes not unusual on
the coasts of South America. You behold a range of
exhausted volcanoes; not a flame flickers on a single
pallid crest; but the situation is still dangerous: there
are occasional earthquakes, and ever and anon the dark
rumblings of the sea.
Speech at Manchester
INCE Disraeli was born a Jew, he
was received into the Jewish Church
with Jewish rites. But Judaism,
standing in the way of his ambition,
and his parents* ambition for him,
the religion of his fathers was re-
nounced and he became, in name, a
Christian. Yet to the last his heart
was with his people, and the glory of his race was his
The fine irony of affiliating with a people who worship
a Jew as their Savior, but who have legislated against,
and despised the Jew this attracted Disraeli. With
them he bowed the knee in an adoration they did not
feel, and while his lips said the litany, his heart repeated
Ben Ezra's prayer. In temperament he belonged with
the double-dealing East. He intuitively knew the law of
jiu jitsu, best exemplified by the Japanese, and won
often by yielding* He was bold, but not too bold.
Israel Zangwill, shrewdest, keenest and kindliest of
Jews with the tragedy of his race pictured on his
furrowed face, a face like an ancient weather-worn
statue on whose countenance grief has petrified has
summed up the character of Disraeli as no other man
ever has or can. I will not rob the reader by quoting
from "The Primrose Sphinx/* that gem of letters
must ever stand together without subtraction of a word.
It belongs to the realm of the lapidary, and its facets
can not be transferred. Yet when Mr. Zangwill refers
to the Mephistophelian curl of Lord Beaconsfield's
lip, the word is used advisedly. No character in history
so stands for the legendary Mephisto as does this man.
The Satan of the Book of Job, jaunty, daring, joking
with his Maker, is the Mephisto of Goethe and all the
other playwriters who have used the character.
Mephisto is so much above the ordinary man in sense of
humor which is merely the right estimate of values
so sweeping in intellect, that Milton pictures him as a
dispossessed god, the only rival of Deity.
Disraeli, not satisfied with playing the part of Mephisto
and tempting men to their ruin, but thirsting for a
wider experience, turns Faustus himself and sells his
soul for a price. He knows that everything in life is
sold nothing is given gratis we pay for knowledge
with tears; for love with pain; for life with death. He
haggles and barters with Fate, and pays the penalty
because he must.
He alternately affronts and cajoles his enemies; takes
all that the world has to give; knows every pleasure;
wins every prize; makes love to the daughters of men
(without loving them) ; and winning the one he selects,
secretly thanks Jehovah, God of his fathers, that he
leaves no offspring because the woman fit for his mate
and equal to mothering his children does not exist*
The sublimity of his egotism stands unrivaled. It is
so great that it is admirable. We lift our hats to this
man. Napoleon gained the field without prejudice; but
this man enters the list with hate and prejudice arrayed
against him. He plays the pawns of chance with lit-
erature, religion, politics, and moves the queen so as
to checkmate all adversaries. He flouts love, but to
show the world that he yet knows the ideal, he occa-
sionally pictures truth and trusting affection in his
speeches and books. This entire game of life is to him
only a diversion 33 They may jeer him down in the
House of Commons, but his patience is unruffled. He
says, '* Very well, I will wait/* Now and again he smiles
that wondrous, contagious smile, showing his white
teeth and the depth of his dark, burning eyes 53 He
knows his power. He revels in the wit he never ex-
presses; he glories in this bright blade of the intellect
that is never fully unsheathed.
They think he is interested in English politics pish!
Only world problems really interest him, and those
that lie behind mean as much to him as those that are
to come. He is one with eternity, and the vanquished
glory of Rome, the marble beauty of Athens, the
Assyrian Sphinx, the flight from Egypt under the
leadership of one who had killed his man yet had
talked with God face to face these and the dim
uncertainty of the unseen, are the things that interest
him. He is a dreamer of the Ghetto.
1HERE was no taint of mixed blood in the veins
of Benjamin Disraeli. He traced his ancestry
in a record that looks like a chapter from the
Book of Numbers. His forebears had known
every persecution, every contumely, slight and disgrace.
Driven from Spain by the Inquisition, barely escaping
with life, when Jewish blood actually fertilized the fields
about Granada, his direct ancestor became one of the
builders of Venice. The Jews practically controlled the
trade of the world in the sun-kissed days of prosperity,
when Venice produced the books and the art of Christen-
dom 53 53
To trace an ancestry back to those who enthroned
Venice on her hundred isles was surely something of
which to be proud; and into the blood of Benjamin
Disraeli went a dash of the gleam and glory and glamour
of Venice the Venice of the Doges.
This man's grandfather came to England with a goodly
fortune, which he managed to increase as the years
went by. He had one son, Isaac, who nearly broke his
parents* heart in that he not only showed no aptitude
for business, but actually wrote poems wherein com-
merce was held up to ridicule. The tendency of the
artistic nature to speak with disdain of the " mere
money-grabber," and the habit of the c * money-grab-
ber " to refer patronizingly to the helpless, theoretical
and dreamy artist, is well known. Isaac Disraeli was
an artist in feeling; he must have been a reincarnation
of one of those bookmakers of Venice who touched
Hands: with Titian, and Giorgione and helped to invest
wisely the moneys the merchants of the Rialto made.
Never a Gratiano had a greater contempt for a mer-
chant than he. Just to get him out of the way, his
patents packed Isaac off to Europe, where he acquired
several languages, and some other things, with that
ease which the Jew always manifests. He dallied in art,
pecked at books, and made the acquaintance of many
When his father died and left him a goodly fortune, he
had the sense to turn the entire management of the
estate over to his wife, a woman with a thorough busi-
ness instinct, while he busied himself with his books.
<f Benjamin was the second child of these parents.
He had a sister older than himself, and two brothers
younger. Those philosophers who claim that spirits
have their own individuality in the unseen world, and
the accident of birth really does not constitute a kin-
ship between brothers and sisters, will find here some-
thing that looks like proof. Benjamin Disraeli bore no
resemblance in mental characteristics to his sister or
brothers; he did, however, possess the mental virtues
of both father and mother, multiplied by ten.
When twelve years of age he exhibited that intense
disposition for mastery which was through life his
distinguishing trait. The Jew does not outrank the
Gentile in strength, but the average Jew surely does
have the faculty of concentration which the average
Gentile does not possess. And that is what constitutes
strength the ability to focus the mind on one thing
and compass it: to concentrate is power.
When Ben was sent to the Unitarian school at Wal-
thamstow, aged fifteen, it was his first taste of school
life. Up to this time his father had been his tutor. Now
he found himself cast into that den of wild animals
an English school for boys. His Jewish name and
features and his dandy ways and attire made him the
instant butt of the playground. Ben very patiently
surveyed his tormentors, waited to pick his man, and
then challenged the biggest boy in the school to single
combat. The exasperating way in which he coolly went
about the business set his adversary's teeth chattering
before the call of " time/' The result of the fight was
that, even if " Dizzy " was not thoroughly respected
from that day forth, no one ever called, " Old clo' ! Old
clo' ! " within his hearing. Of course it was not gen-
erally advertised that the lad had been taking boxing
lessons from " Coster Joe " for three years, with the
villainies of a boys* school in view. In fact, boxing was
this young man's diversion, and the Coster on several
occasions expressed great regret that writing and pol-
itics had robbed the ring of one who showed promise
of being the cleverest welter-weight of his time.
The main facts in both "Vivian Gray" and "Contarini
Fleming " are autobiographical* Like Byron, upon
whom Disraeli fed, the author never got far away from
himself 53 53
It was not long before the intense personality of young
Disraeli made itself felt throughout the Walthamstow
school. The young man smiled at the pedant's idolatry
of facts, and seized the vital point in every lesson. He
felt himself the superior of every one in the establish-
ment, master included and he was.
Before a year he split the school into two factions
those who favored Ben Disraeli, and those who were
opposed to him. The master cast his vote with the
latter class, and the result was that Ben withdrew,
thus saving the authorities the trouble of expelling
him. His leave-taking was made melodramatic with a
speech to the boys, wherein impertinent allusions were
made concerning all schoolmasters, and the master of
Walthamstow in particular.
And thus ended the school life of Benjamin Disraeli,
the year at Walthamstow being his first and last
experience 53 53
However, Ben was not indifferent to study; he felt
sure that there was a great career before him, and he
knew that knowledge was necessary to success. With
his father's help he laid out a course of work that kept
him at his tasks ten hours a day. His father was a
literary man of acknowledged worth, and mingled in
the best artistic society of London. Into this society
Beniamin was introduced, meeting all his father's
acquaintances on an absolute equality. The young man
at eighteen was totally unabashed in any company; he
gave his opinion unasked, criticized his elders, flashed
his wit upon the guests and was looked upon with
fear, amusement or admiration, as the case might be S3
Froude says of him, " The stripling was the same
person as the statesman at seventy, with this difference
only, that the affectation which was natural in the boy
was itself affected in the matured politician, whom it
served well for a mask, or as a suit of impenetrable
armor/' 53 53
]HAT literature is the child of parents is true.
That is to say, it takes two to produce a book.
Of course there are imitation books, sort o*
wax figures that look like books, made through
habit by those that have been many years upon the
turf, and who work automatically; but every real, live,
throbbing, pulsing book was written by a man with a
woman at his elbow, or vice versa.
When twenty-one years of age Benjamin Disraeli
produced " Vivian Gray/' The woman in the case was
Mrs. Austen, wife of a prosperous London solicitor.
This lady was handsome, a brilliant talker, a fine
musician and an amateur artist of no mean ability. She
was much older than Disraeli she must have been in
order to comprehend that the young man's frivolity
was pretense, and his foppery affectation. A girl of his
own age, whose heart-depths had not been sounded
by experience, would have fallen in love with the fop-
pery (or else despised it which is often the same
thing); but Mrs. Austen, mature in years, with a
decade of London ** seasons " behind her, having met
every possible kind of man Europe had to offer, dis~
covered that the world did not know Ben Disraeli at
all. She saw that the youth did not reveal his true self,
and that instead of courting society for its awn sake
he had a supreme contempt for it. She intuitively knew
that he was seething in discontent, and with prophetic
vision she knew that his restless power and his ambition
would yet make him a marked figure in the world of
letters or politics, or both.
For love as a passion, or supreme sentiment, ruling
one's life, Disraeli had no sympathy. He shunned love
for fear it might bind him hand and foot. Love not
only is blind, but love blinds its votary, and Disraeli,
knowing this, fled for freedom when the trail grew
Warm. A man madly in love is led, subdued imagine
Mephisto captured, crying it out on his knees with his
head in a woman's lap!
But Mrs. Austen was happily married, the mother of
a family, and occupied a position high in London
Society 33 Marriage with her was out of the question,
and scandal and indiscretion equally so Ben Disraeli
felt safe with Mrs. Austen. With her he put off his
domino and grew simple and confidential.
And so the lady, doubtless a bit flattered for she was
a woman set herself to push en the hazard of new
fortunes. She encouraged him to write his novel of
" Vivian Gray " discussed every phase of it, read
chapter after chapter as they were produced, and by
her gentle encouragement and warm sympathy fired
the mind of the young man to the point of production.
<I The book is absurd in plot, and like most first books,
flashy and overdrawn. And yet there is a deal of power
in it, and the thinly veiled characters were speedily
pointed out as living personages. Literary London
went agog, and Mrs. Austen fanned the flame by
Inviting " the set " to her drawing-room to kear the
great author read from his amusing work. The best
feature of the book, and probably the saving feature, is
that the central figure in the plot is Disraeli, himself, and
upon his own head the author plays his shafts of wit
and ridicule. The impertinence and impudence which
he himself manifested were parodied, caricatured and
played upon, to the great delight of the uninitiated
rabble, who gave themselves much credit for having
made a discovery.
The man who scorns, scoffs, gibes and jeers other men,
and at the same time is willing to drop his guard and
laugh at himself, is not a bad man. Very, very seldom
is found a man under thirty who does not take himself
and all his wit seriously. But Disraeli, the lawyer's
clerk, at twenty was wise and subtle beyond all men in
London Town. Mrs. Austen must have been wise, too,
for had she been like most other good women she would
have wanted her protege admired, and have rebelled in
tears at the thought of placing him in a position where
society would serve him up for tittle-tattle. Small men
can be laughed down, but great ones, never.
A little American testimony as to the appearance of
Disraeli in his manhood may not here be amiss. Says
N. P. Willis: " He was sitting in a window looking on
Hyde Park, the last rays of sunlight reflected from the
gorgeous gold flowers of a splendidly embroidered waist-
coat. Patent-leather pumps, a white stick with a black
cord and tassel, and a quantity of chains about his
neck and pockets, served to make him a conspicuous
object. He has one of the most remarkable faces I ever
saw. He is lividly pale, and but for the energy of his
action and strength of his lungs would seem to be a
victim of consumption. His eye is black as Erebus, and
has the most mocking, lying-in-wait sort of expression
conceivable. His mouth is alive with a kind of working
and impatient nervousness, and when he has burst
forth, as he does constantly, with a particularly success-
ful cataract of expression, it assumes a curl of trium-
phant scorn that would be worthy of Mephistopheles.
His hair is as extraordinary as his taste in waistcoats.
A thick, heavy mass of jet-black ringlets falls on his left
cheek almost to his collarless stock, which on the right
temple is parted and put away with the smooth care-
fulness of a girL The conversation turned on Beckford.
I might as well attempt to gather up the foam of the
sea as to convey an idea of the extraordinary language
in which he clothed his description. He talked like a
racehorse approaching the winning-post, every muscle
ISRAELI, like Byron, awoke one morning and
found himself famous. And like Byron, he was
yet a stripling. Pitt was Prime Minister at
twenty-five. Genius has its example, and
Disraeli worshiped alternately at the shrines of Byron
and Pitt. The daring intellect and haughty indifference
of Byron, and the compelling power of Pitt he saw no
reason why he should not unite these qualities within
himself. He had been grubbing in a lawyer's office, and
had revealed decided ability in a business way, but
novel-writing in office-hours was not appreciated by his
employer Ben was told so, and this gave him an oppor-
tunity to resign. He had set his heart on a political
career he thirsted for power and no doubt Mrs.
Austen encouraged him in this. To push a man to the
front, and thus win a vicarious triumph, has been a
source of great joy to more than one ambitious woman.
To get on in politics, Disraeli must enter the House of
Commons. Even now, with the help of the Austens, and
his father's purse, a pocket borough might be secured,
but it was not enough he must enter with eclat.
A year of travel was advised fame grows best where
the man is not too much in evidence; there is virtue in
obscurity. Disraeli decided to go down through Europe,
traveling over the same route that Byron had taken,
write another book that would secure him some more
necessary notoriety, and then stand for a seat in the
House of Commons. Once within the sacred pale, he
believed his knowledge of business, his ability to
express himself as a writer or speaker, and the magic
of his presence would make the rest easy.
There was no dumb luck in the matter neither father
nor son believed in chance; they fixed their faith on
cause and effect.
And so Ben went abroad before London society grew
aweary of him.
His stay was purposely prolonged; and news of his
progress from time to time filled the public prints. He
carried letters of introduction to every one and moved
in a sort of sublime pageant as he traveled.
When he returned, wearing the costume of the East,
he was greeted by society as a prince. His novel, " Con-
tarini Fleming/' was published with great acclaim, and
interest in "Vivian Gray" was revived by a special
edition deluxe. " Contarini " was compared to " Childe
Harold," and pictures of Disraeli, with hair curling to
his shoulders, were displayed in shop-windows by the
side of pictures of Byron.
Disraeli was the lion of the drawing-rooms. When it
was known he was to be in a certain place crowds
gathered to get a glimpse of his handsome face, and to
listen to his wit.
He introduced several of his Eastern accomplishments,
one of which was the hookah. " Beware of tobacco,
my boy," said an old colonel to him one day; *' women
do not like it; it has ruined more charming liaisons
than anything else I know! " <I " Then you must con-
sider smoking a highly moral accomplishment," was the
reply. The colonel had wrongly guessed the object of
He became acquainted with Tom Moore, Count
d'Orsay, and Lady Morgan; Lady Blessington welcomed
him at Kensington; Bulwer-Lytton introduced him to
Mrs. Wyndham Lewis wife of the member from
Maidstone aged forty; and he was, say, twenty-five.
They tried conclusions in repartee, sparred for points,
and amused the company by hot arguments and wordy
pyrotechnics. When they found themselves alone in the
conservatory, after a little stroll, they shook hands, and
the gentleman said, " What fools these mortals be! "
*' True/' replied the lady; " true, and yqu and I are
mortals." And so Disraeli found another woman who
correctly gauged him. They liked each other first-rate.
At last a vacant borough was found and arrangements
made for the young man to stand as a candidate for the
House of Commons. The campaign was entered upon
with great vigor. Disraeli quite outdid himself in speech-
making and waistcoats. The election took place and
he was defeated.
ITH Disraeli defeat meant merely a transient
episode, not a conclusion. On the second
venture he was elected, and one sunshiny day
found himself duly sworn in as a member of
the House of Commons, with a seat just back of Peel's.
fl There is a tradition in Parliament, adopted also in
the United States Senate, that silence is quite becoming
to a member during his first session. Disraeli had a
motto to the effect that it is better to be impudent than
servile, and in order to teach Parliament that in the
presence of personality all rules are waived, he very
shortly indulged him in an exceeding spread-eagle
speech. But he had not spoken five minutes before the
members began to laugh. Catcalls, hisses and mad
tumult reigned. The young man in the flaming waistcoat
let loose all his oratorical artillery, and the result was
bravos and left-handed applause that smothered his
batteries. Again and again he tried to proceed, but his
voice was lost in the Clover-Club fusillade. The Chair
was powerless. At last the speaker saw an opening and
roared above the din, " I will now sit down, but you
shall yet listen to me! "
Opinions were divided as to whether the House had
squelched the Israelitish fop, or whether the fop had
tantalized the House into unseemliness* The young
man needed snubbing, no doubt, but the lesson had
been given so brutally that sympathy was with the
snubbed. The original intent was to abash him, so he
would break down; but this not succeeding, he had
simply been clubbed into silence.
Then when Disraeli refused to accept condolences
merely waiving the whole affair and a few days after
arose to make some trivial motion, just as though
nothing had happened, he made friends.
Any man who shows himself to be strong has friends
people wish to attach themselves to such a one.
Disraeli showed himself strong in that he held no
resentment, and indulged in no recrimination on account
of the treatment he had received. A weak man would
have done one of these things: resigned his seat,
demanded an apology from the House, or refused to let
his voice again be heard. Disraeli did neither he con-
tinued to speak on various occasions* and expressed
himself so courteously, so modestly, so becomingly,
that the members listened in awe and curiosity. Then
soon it was discovered that beneath the mild and gentle
ripple of his speech ran a deep current of earnest truth,
tinged with subtle wit. When he spoke, the loungers
came in from the cloakrooms, fearing to miss something
that was worth while.
The House of Commons experience taught DisraeK
one great truth, and that was this: the most effective
oratory is not bombastic. Among educated people (or
illiterate) the quiet, deliberate and subdued manner is
best. Reserve is a very necessary element in effective
speaking. It is soul-weight that counts, not mere words*
words, words. The extreme deliberation and compelling
quality of quiet self-possession in Disraeli's style dated,
according to Gladstone, from the day that Parliament
tried to laugh him down. After that if any one wanted
to hear him they had to corne to him, and he took good
care that those who did come did not go away empty*
He never explained the evident, illustrated the obvious,
nor expatiated on the irrelevant.
However, the motto, " Impudence rather than servil-
ity/' was not discarded. Instead of a dashing style he
developed a slow, subtle, scathing quality that was
quite lost on all, save those who gave themselves to
close listening $ And the House listened, for when
Disraeli went after an antagonist he chose an antlered
stag. If little men, fiercely effervescent and childishly
inconsequential, attempted to reply to him or sought
to engage him in debate, he simply answered them
with silence, or that tantalizing smile.
O'Connell and Disraeli, although unlike, had much in
common and should have been fast friends. Surely the
age and distinguished record of O'Connell must have
commanded Disraeli's respect, but we know how they
grappled in wordy warfare. Disraeli called the Irishman
an incendiary, and O'Connell, who was a past master
in abuse, replied in a speech wherein he exhausted the
Billingsgate lexicon. He wound up by a reference to the
ancestry of his opponent, and a suggestion that " this
jenegade Jew is descended from the impenitent thief,
whose name was doubtless Disraeli/' It was a home-
thrust a picture so exaggerated and overdrawn that all
England laughed. The very extravagance of the simile
should have saved the allusion from resentment; but it
touched Disraeli in his most sensitive spot his pride
of birth 33 33
He straightway challenged his traducer. O'Connell had
killed a man in a duel years before, and then vowed
he would never again engage in mortal combat 33
Disraeli intimated that he would fight O'Connell's son,
Morgan, if preferred, a man of his own age.
Morgan replied that his father insulted so many men
he could not set the precedent of fighting them all, or
standing sponsor for an indiscreet parent. But with
genuine Irish spirit he suggested that if the son of
Abraham was intent on fight and could not be per-
suaded to be sensible, why, the matter could probably
Happily, about this time, police officers invaded the
apartments of Disraeli and arrested him on a bench-
warrant. He was bound over, to his great relief, in the
sum of five hundred pounds to keep the peace.
O'Connell never took the matter very seriously, and
referred soon after in a speech to " my excellent,
though slightly bellicose friend, child of an honored
race/' 33 33
Disraeli did not take up politics to make money the
man who does that may win in his desires, but his
career is short. Nothing but honesty really succeedk
Disraeli knew this, and in his record there is no taint.
But the income of a member of the House of Commcms
affords no opportunity for display. Disraeli's books
brought him in only small sums, and his father's mod-
erate fortune had been sadly drawn upon. He was
well past thirty, and was not making head, simply
because he was cramped for funds. To rise in politics
you must have an establishment; you must entertain
and reach out and bring those you wish to influence
within your scope. A third floor back, in an ebb-tide
Street, will not do. Like Agassiz, Disraeli had no time
to make money it was a sad plight. But this was a
man of destiny, -and to use the language of Augustine
Birrell, " Wyndam Lewis at this time accommodatingly
died." Mrs. Wyndam Lewis had been the firm friend
and helper of Disraeli for many years, and although a
small matter of fifteen years separated them as to ages,
yet their hearts beat as one.
Scarce a twelvemonth had gone before the widow and
Disraeli were married. They disappeared from London
for some months, journeying on the Continent. When
they returned all the old scores in way of unpaid His
against Disraeli were paid, and he was master dE an
establishment 53 $
Disraeli was thirty-five, his wife was fifty, but it was
a happy mating. They thought alike, and their ambi-
tions were the same. Disraeli treated his wife with all
tJie courtly grace and deference in which he was an
adept, and her princely fortune was absolutely his.
** There was much cause for gratitude on both sides/*
said O'Connell. And there is no doubt that Disraeli's
wife proved the firmest friend he ever had. For many
years she was his sole confidante and best adviser.
She attended him everywhere and relieved him of many
burdens. That true incident of her fingers being crushed
by the careless slamming of the carriage-door, and her
hiding the bleeding members in her muff , and attending
Ifcer husband to the House of Commons, where he was
to speak, refusing to disturb him by her pain this
symbols the moral quality of the woman. She was the
fit mate of a great man, and it is pleasant to know that
she was honored and appreciated.
O tell the story of Disraeli's thirty years ia
Parliament would be to write the political
history of the time. He was in the front of
every fight; he expressed himself on every
subject; he crossed swords with the strongest men of
his age. That he had no great and overpowering con-
victions on any subject is fully admitted now, even by
his most ardent admirers it was always a question of
policy; that is to say, he was a politician. He gave a point
here and there when he had to, and when he did, always
managed to do it gracefully. When he ambled over from
one party to another he affected a fine wrath and gave
Three times he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and
twice was he Prime Minister, and for a time actual
Dictator. But he took good care not to exercise his
power too severely. When his word was supreme, the
safety of the nation lay, as it always does, in a strong
opposition 33 33
In one notable instance was Disraeli wrong in his
prophecies he declared again and again that Free
Trade meant commercial bankruptcy. Yet Free Trade
came about, and the fires were started in ten thousand
factories, and such prosperity came to England as she
had never known before.
Political economy as a science was a constant butt
for his wit, and in physical science he was dense to a
point where his ignorance calls for pity. He believed
in the literal Mosaic account of creation, and said in
his paradoxical way on one occasion, that in belief he
was not only a Christian, but a Jew, And this in spite
of his most famous mot; "All sensible men are of one
religion/* 33 33
"And what is that? "
" Sensible men never tell"
Had Disraeli been truly sensible he would not have
attempted to hold Charles Darwin up to ridicule, by
declaring in a speech at Oxford that " it is a choice
between apes and angels/' He had neither the ability,
patience, nor inclination to read the " Origin of Species,"
and yet was so absurd as to answer it.
In his novels of " Coningsby/' " Sybil" and "Tan-
cred," he argues with great skill and adroit sophistry
that a landed aristocracy is necessary to a progressive
civilization. " The common people need an example of
refinement in way of manners, art and intellect. Some'
one must take the lead, and reveal the possibility of
life in leisurely and luxurious living." And this example
of beauty, gentleness and excellence was to come from
the landed gentry of England ye gods! Was it possible
that this man believed in the necessity of the gentry a&
a virtuous example? Or did he merely view the fact
that the aristocracy were there in actual possession, and:
as they could not be evicted, why then the next best
thing was to -cajole; flatter and discreetly advise ,
Who shall say what this man believed!
Sensible men never tell. <I But this we know, this man
had no vice but ambition. He conformed pretty closely
to England's ideals, and his thirst for power never
caused him to take the chances of a Waterloo. His
novels show a close acquaintanceship with the ways of
society, and he knew the human heart as few men ever
do. The degradation of the average toiler in Great
Britain, the infamy of the policy extended toward
Ireland, and the cruelty of imperialism all these he
knew, for his books reveal it; but he was powerless as a
leader to stem the current of tendency. He acquiesced
where he deemed action futile.
" Lothair " is his best novel, for in it he gets furthest
away from himself. It reveals a cleverness that is
admirable, and this same brilliancy and shifty play of
intellect are found in " Endymion," written in his
seventy-fifth year. Whether these novels can ever take
their place among the books that endure is a question
that is growing more easy to answer each succeeding
year. They owed their popularity more to their flip-
pant cleverness than to their insight, and their vogue
was due, to a great extent, to the veiled personalities
that interline their pages.
That Disraeli did not carry out all the plans and
reforms he attempted, need not be set down to his dis-
credit. It is fortunate he did not succeed better than
he did. He, however, safely piloted the great s^hip in
the direction the passengers desired to go; and his
own personal ambition was reached when he, a Jew at
heart member of a despised race had made himseM
master of the fleets, armies and treasury of the proude&f
nation the world has ever known.
OUND into the life of Disraeli is a peculiar
incident in the romantic friendship that
existed between him and Mrs. Willyums of
Torquay, Cornwall. About the year Eighteen
Hundred Forty-nine, Disraeli began to receive letters
from an unknown admirer, who expressed a great desire
for an interview on '* a most important business/* All
public men, especially if they have the brilliant mental
qualities of Disraeli, receive such letters. The sensitive
neurotic female who is ill-appreciated in her own home
and whose soul yearns for a ** higher companionship "
is numerous. Disraeli's secretary used to take care of
such letters with a gentle explanation that the Chief
was out of town, but upon his return, etc., etc., and
that was the last of it. But this Torquay correspondent
was insistent, and finally a letter came from her saying
she had come to London on purpose to meet her lord
and master, and she would await him at a seat just east
of the fountain in Crystal Palace at a certain hour*
Disraeli read the missive with impatience the idea of
his meeting an unknown woman in this fishmonger
manner at a hurdy-gurdy show! He tossed the letter
into the fire. The next day another letter came, express-
ing much regret that he had not kept the appointment,
but saying she would await him at the same place the
following day, and begging him, as the matter was very
urgent, not to fail her.
Disraeli smiled and showed the letter to his wife. She
advised him to go. When his wife said he had better
do a thing he usually did it; and so he ordered his
carriage and went to the hurdy-gurdy show to meet the
impressionable female of unknown age and condition
at the seat just east of the fountain. It was a silly thing
for the leading member of Parliament to do to make
an assignation in a public place with a fool-woman all
London might be laughing at him tomorrow! He was
on the point of turning back.
But he reached the fountain and there was his destiny
awaiting him a little woman in widow's black. She
lifted her veil and showed a face wrinkled and old, but
kindly. She was agitated she really did not expect
him and the great man gave a great sigh of relief
when he saw that no flashily dressed creature had
entrapped him. Even if people stared at him sitting
there it made no difference. In pity he shook hands
with the little old woman, sat down beside her, calmed
her agitation, spoke of Cornwall and the weather, and
inquired what he could do for her. A rambling talk
about nothing followed, and Disraeli was sure it was
just a mild case of lunacy.
He arose to go, and the woman gave him an envelope,
saying she had written out her case and begged him to
read the letter when he had time. The man was pre-
occupied, his mind on great affairs of state he simply
crushed the letter into the side-pocket of his overcoat,
bade the woman a dignified good-morning, and turned
away, f It was a month before he found the letter all
crumpled and soiled there where he had placed it. He
really had forgotten where it came from. The envelope
was opened and out dropped a Bank of England note
for one thousand pounds. This note was to pay for
certain legal advice. The advice wanted was of a trivial
nature, and Disraeli, always conscientious in money
matters, hastened to return the money, in person, and
give the advice gratis.
But the lady had had the interview two of them ami
this was all she wanted. Letters followed, and this
dieveloped into a daily correspondence, wherein the
old lady revealed the story of her passion a passion
as delicate, earnest and all-devouring as ever a girl of
twenty knew. Insane, you say? Well, ah yes, doubt-
less. But then, love is illusion; perhaps life is illusion,
a very beautiful rainbow, and why old folks should
not be allowed to chase it, or allow sweet emotion to
gurgle gleefully under Aeir lee, a bit, as well as young
folks, I do not know. Then, really, is love simply a
physical manifestation and do spirits grow old? If so,
where is our belief in the immortality of the soul? $&
Mrs* Wiliyums was childless, had long been a widow,
was rich, and her heart had been in the grave until she
began to trace the record of Disraeli. She was a recluse:
read, studied, fed on Disraeli loved him. After several
years of dreaming and planning she had actually bagged
the game. She was a woman of education and ideas,
Her letters were interesting and Disraeli's letters to
her,, now published, reveal the history of his daily Hfe
as he never told it to another. At her death the bulk of
Mrs. Willyum's fortune went by will to Disraeli.
But Mrs, Disraeli was not jealous of this affection.
Why should a woman of sixty be jealous of another
woman the same age? They pooled their love and grew
rich together in recounting it. Presents were going
backward and forward all the time between Disraeli's
country home and Torquay. Mrs. Willyums next came
to live at Hughenden. There she died, and there she
sleeps, side by side, as was her wish, with Benjamin
Disraeli, Lord Privy Seal, Earl Beaconsfield of Beacons-
field, Viscount Hughenden of Hughenden. And the
reason the Ex-Premier was not buried in Westminster
Abbey was because he had promised these two women
that even death should not separate them from him.
So there under the spreading elms, in this out-of-the-
way country place, they rest these three, side by side,
and the sighing breeze tells and tells again to the
twittering birds in the branches, of this triple love,
strange as fate, strong as destiny, warm as life, pure as
snow, and unselfish as the kiss of the summer sun.
SO HERE ENDETH "LITTLE JOURNEYS TO THE HOMES
OF ENGLISH AUTHORS," WHICH IS VOLUME FIVE OF
THE SERIES OF "LITTLE JOURNEYS TO THE HOMES
OF THE GREAT," AS WRITTEN BY ELBERT HUBBARD.
THE TYPOGRAPHY, BORDERS AND INITIALS WERE
DESIGNED BY THE ROYCROFT ARTISTS AT THEIR
SHOPS, WHICH ARE IN EAST AURORA, NEW YORK